After hearing concerns from residents and business owners, the West Hollywood City Council on Monday asked for a new proposal to increase parking meter hours past the current 6 p.m. enforcement deadline.
About a dozen people spoke in opposition to ending free parking on Sundays and raising the enforcement cut-off time to 8 p.m. or as late midnight on western parts of Santa Monica Boulevard, council members called for additional public outreach and directed staff to return with a revised proposal as early as February.
Council members and city staff said creating more parking meter availability after 6 p.m. would be a boon to businesses, which presumably lose customers due to a lack of street parking. They claimed the shortage of nighttime street parking was due largely to employees who work at the city's restaurants and bars on Santa Monica Boulevard who park at metered spaces for most of the night starting at 5 or 6 p.m.
"The current status quo is not working," Councilman John Duran said. "If it seems really inconvenient to ask people to think about parking in the library structure to walk all the way over to the Yogurt Stop to get a yogurt, well maybe this idea about turning over parking spaces would let us use those spaces that should be meant for short-term parking."
City staff proposed a $30 monthly parking permit for commercial employees who work on the city's west side that would be valid at metered spaces primarily located south of Melrose Avenue between Doheny Drive and La Cienega Boulevard.
Another idea was to create a $40 monthly permit to park at the city's Kings Road Parking Structure and a $30 monthly permit for night parking at its Orange Grove Parking Lot.
Council members stated concerns about possible security risks to local workers, many of whom would have to walk a considerable distance from their Santa Monica Boulevard workplace to their cars in the proposed employee permit zones.
Councilman John Heilman, who didn't support employee permits, said providing parking for commercial workers was fundamentally the responsibility of employers, not the city.
"But we want to help out," Heilman said. "The way to do that is ... use Pavilions, use the [Pacific Design Center], use other places for employee parking that will be displaced if we change the meter rules."
The council's action came after residents and business owners expressed their views on the proposed changes to the parking meter enforcement hours.
"What will happen after this parking increase is ... the customer will move into valet parking," said Larry Block, who owns Block Party clothing store on Santa Monica Boulevard. "Valet parking rates will go up from $6 to $10 to $20, and the whole concept of keeping prices at market level shift once you raise the cheapest parking in the area."
Pat Nixon said "8 is too late, 6 is fine. ... Let's make it as convenient as possible for residents."
The council budgeted $1 million from projected revenues for fiscal years 2012-13 and 2013-14 that will result from the extended parking meter hours to pay for more patrols by the Sheriff's Department and private security personnel.
If the council doesn't increase parking meter enforcement time, it will have to reconsider the public safety funding during the mid-year budget process, according to a staff report.