Why can’t LA be more like Santa Monica?

Regular readers know I have a major beef with LA’s insane parking requirements on new developments.

Without getting into all of the specifics, the key point is that the amount of parking required by the municipal code pretty much guarantees that you get either suburban style retail (surrounded by huge parking lots) or generic monstrosities where the first floor is entirely devoted to parking. Either way, pedestrians lose, because no one wants to walk across / by endless parking lots to get anywhere.

On Friday, Curbed LA published an interesting piece on a proposal in Santa Monica to allow developers to pay the city in lieu of providing some of the parking spaces SM would normally require for their developments. Developers would pay $20k to the city for each space they avoid building. The city would use the money coming in from this program to construct city-owned parking structures.

This wouldn’t work all over LA. After all, the residents of a development in West LA can’t very well park in a parking structure constructed in Boyle Heights. However, applied in a targeted manner, where the payment-in-lieu of parking is centered in specific areas generating enough revenue to the city to make construction of the garages feasible, it would have amazing benefits.

Imagine if you could build along Sunset in Silver Lake or Echo Park without killing the storefront retail that makes those areas special. Imagine if you could build new multi-use buildings in Larchmont that would fit in with the incredibly pedestrian-friendly street-scape there. You could make a lot of money providing amazing living / working / selling environments that enhance, rather than destroy, the communities in which they’re located.