Park on a berm? Ex­pect a ticket

Los Angeles Times - - CITY & STATE - By Laura J. Nel­son

Los An­ge­les of­fi­cials will be­gin crack­ing down next week on a wave of rene­gade park­ing across the city, more than five years af­ter first turn­ing a blind eye to the prac­tice.

Start­ing Mon­day, L.A. park­ing of­fi­cers will be­gin tick­et­ing cars parked on the stretch of pub­lic land be­tween the side­walk and the street, the Trans­porta­tion Depart­ment said.

Those sliv­ers of land — called park­ways or berms — have be­come pop­u­lar de facto park­ing places in neigh­bor­hoods where street spa­ces are at a pre­mium. The prac­tice has de­stroyed grass, plant­ings and curbs in dense cen­tral neigh­bor­hoods such as West­lake, East Hol­ly­wood and Kore­atown.

The City Coun­cil sus­pended the pol­icy of tick­et­ing such ve­hi­cles in 2011, af­ter be­ing sued mul­ti­ple times over al­leged vi­o­la­tions of the Amer­i­cans With Dis­abil­i­ties Act.

One law­suit said the city’s prac­tice of al­low­ing driv­ers to park on the slop­ing por­tion of the drive­way be­tween the side­walk and the curb, known as the apron, vi­o­lated ac­ces­si­bil­ity laws.

At the ad­vice of city lawyers, park­ing of­fi­cials be­gan pay­ing closer at­ten­tion to apron park­ing — and a wave of tick­et­ing fol­lowed. Driv­ers who had parked in their own drive­ways for years be­gan to re­ceive tick­ets.

Af­ter an out­cry, city law­mak­ers sus­pended park­way park­ing en­force­ment un­til a sep­a­rate pol­icy could be writ­ten for drive­ways.

Five years passed. The city’s le­nient stance was never ad­ver­tised, but driv­ers even­tu­ally caught on, bump­ing over curbs and drive­ways to reach park­way spa­ces.

Res­i­dents in East Hol­ly­wood and West­lake, frustrated by City Hall’s in­ac­tion, turned to guer­rilla tac­tics to dis­cour­age their scof­flaw neigh­bors. Some planted trees and in­stalled posts, only to have them knocked down.

The new pol­icy, ap­proved in June, will al­low the city to re­sume tick­et­ing driv­ers for park­ing on park­ways. It will also al­low driv­ers to park on drive­way aprons — pro­vided cars don’t block the street or the side­walk.

“You can’t have your wheels on the side­walk or on the street,” Trans­porta­tion Depart­ment spokesman Bruce Gill­man said.

The prac­tice is par­tic­u­larly com­mon in West­wood, where land­lords some­times sell drive­way apron spa­ces to stu­dents or guar­an­tee them in their leases. The city has asked UCLA to in­clude the new park­ing in­for­ma­tion in stu­dents’ ori­en­ta­tion pack­ets, Gill­man said.

Park­ing of­fi­cers have been plac­ing warn­ing fliers un­der driv­ers’ wind­shields since the start of July, Gill­man said.

“We’re not try­ing to pull the wool over any­one’s eyes or hide any­thing,” Gill­man said.

laura.nel­son@la­times.com Twit­ter: @lau­ra_nel­son

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