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Apron Parking

The ban on apron parking in Westwood will being August 1. Will this improve the parking situation? What are other solutions to the problem? Let us know by calling 310-697-8084, and we'll post your message here.

Related stories:
Apron Parking Package Flash Graphic

Apron parking restricts disabled students
Anthony Pesce | Monday, July 30

Long-term Village residents fight ban
Ben Thaler | Monday, July 30

Influential figures invested in ban
Robert Faturechi | Monday, July 30

Meter system may offer solution
Natalie Edwards | Monday, July 30

Speaks out: Apron Parking Ban
Josh Lehmer, Yvonne Leow | Monday, July 30

Motion to allow apron parking

The ban is expected to be enforced Aug. 1, but apron parking in Westwood may not be a lost cause, because of a brief filed by Los Angeles city councilman Jack Weiss, who supports its legalization.

• The motion proposes to make apron parking legal in Los Angeles, as long as parked cars do not impede access to the sidewalk and street.
• This would allow for compact cars in most spaces, but could prevent larger cars from apron parking.
• The motion will be sent to the city council's transportation committee, and it could be months before it is brought to discussion.
• Even if the committee legalizes apron parking, the city attorney could conclude that apron parking is illegal.
• USAC Facilities commissioner Sherlyn Mossahebfar said petitioning for the motion to pass will be a key part of her agenda in the fall.

SOURCES: Alex Fay, Office of Jack Weiss


Photo by Jessica Lum

Longtime Westwood resident Flint Dille said he tends to avoid political issues, but in order to keep his apron parking spot, he said he had to become a political activist.
Long-term Village residents fight ban
Ben Thaler, Bruin contributor (Contact)
Published: Monday, July 30, 2007
Throughout the last academic year, the North Village was abuzz with student-led petitions and Facebook ads fighting the impending ban on apron parking. Students were successful – to a degree, as a crackdown on apron parking was delayed until at least Aug. 1.

But with the new deadline approaching and summer break in full swing, students have deserted their once-active role in the fight against the apron parking ban.

As a result, the apron parking ban, which will affect approximately 250 cars parked in driveways between the streets and the sidewalk, has primarily become a concern for many of Westwood's long-term residents, who say they rely on the spaces to accommodate visitors and two-car households.

Sherlyn Mossahebfar, the Undergraduate Students Association Council Facilities commissioner who has been involved in the fight against the ban, said students are "jaded by the process."

"Students think they don't have any say against big city politicians," she said.

Alex Fay, a recent graduate who as a student vocally opposed the ban last winter, agrees that students have been apathetic this summer.

He said students tend not to get involved in local affairs unless they own their own property, which makes it hard for representatives to work on their behalf.

The fight against the apron parking ban has now primarily gone to Westwood's long-term residents.

Michael Webb is one long-term resident who will be affected by the apron-parking ban. He said whenever he has guests over, they take an apron parking space on Strathmore.

"Whether the guests are friends over for dinner or the plumbers fixing a leak, I need (apron parking) to accommodate them," Webb said.

Webb's neighbor, Charles Dubow, agrees. He said families with two cars would also be hurt by the ban.

"This doesn't just affect students – it concerns those of us who will stay longer than a couple years," Dubow said.

Many of the long-term residents have taken a position against the ban, but Fay, whose views formerly mirrored the residents, has now tried to take a middle ground.

"There are two camps: people who want nothing to change, and people who acknowledge that something is going to change one way or another," Fay said.

"Whether we like it or not, apron parking is not going to be allowed in its current form, so we should prepare for alternatives," he said.

Fay said he originally pushed for the delay of the apron-parking ban because students renew their leases after the summer, and he did not want his peers to have the rules changed in the middle of the year.

A history of apron parking

Long-term resident Flint Dille is one of the leading opponents of the apron-parking ban.

"About three years ago, we got notes from parking enforcement warning us that we were parking illegally, but the officers themselves told us they didn't want to give us actual tickets," Dille said.

Dille said he didn't take any of the notes seriously until former presidential candidate and visiting UCLA Professor Michael Dukakis came in the picture.

"Dukakis got his class involved, which I think is a misuse of taxpayer money, since we're paying for him to teach," Dille said.

Last fall, Dukakis and urban planning professor Donald Shoup, who is considered a leading expert on parking issues, spearheaded the effort to get rid of apron parking in the North Village on the grounds that it violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. Enforcement was originally set to begin in November, but was delayed twice until the current deadline of Aug. 1.

Dille said he believed that Dukakis and Shoup were "leveraging students as a classroom assignment to mess with property values."

But Dukakis has remained resolute in his opposition to apron parking.

"Apron parking effectively eliminates one lane from the street so you get all kinds of jam-ups," Dukakis said. "And if I see problems, I deal with them."

Still, some view the efforts of the former Massachusetts governor as obtrusive.

"We've been apron parking for 40 years, and all of a sudden some big-wig comes in and uses his political connections to hurt us," Dille said.

In a response to local frustration with the imminent ban, a North Village resident created a blog called "North Village Parking According to Michael Dukakis." The blog is filled with postings lambasting Dukakis and keeping readers updated on developments.

Excerpts from the blog include poetry mocking Dukakis and his wife, Kitty Dukakis, as well as parodies of news headlines. One headline stated that "Officials have already approved construction of UCLA off-site metered parking lots and much-needed extra storage space for the Dukakis' egos."

Dille said he does not believe Dukakis has any good alternatives for apron parking.

"Dukakis doesn't have a viable solution – except to bring in Flexcar, which would take away even more parking spots in the neighborhood," he said.

Car sharing - solution or hindrance?

Some have proposed the expansion of car-sharing services to alleviate the parking congestion in Westwood.

Flexcar is a car-sharing company that allows its members to pay an annual fee to use a car with a guaranteed parking space.

The service is considered one alternative to alleviate the number of cars in the Westwood area, which would make apron parking less crucial to residents.

Margaret Kemp, the marketing and outreach coordinator for Flexcar L.A., said the 22 vehicles on the UCLA campus have been successful at reducing traffic.

Walter King, the general manager of Flexcar L.A., said he hoped 20-30 vehicles would eventually be available for Westwood apartment residents in order to alleviate the parking crisis.

King acknowledged that several of the proposed Flexcar spaces would have to come from street parking, but said that Flexcar was working with private entities, including a local church, for other spaces.

Fay said implementing Flexcar is a good idea, regardless of what happens with apron parking.

"There is a systemic parking shortage in Westwood, and Flexcar is one viable solution along with permitted parking and new structures," Fay said.

Middle ground

Some residents, such as seven-year North Village resident Roxane Stern, are torn between the two sides in the apron parking debate.

"Some of my neighbors have really attacked Dukakis, and whether or not he's caused us our troubles I don't know, but the fact remains that our legislators will make the decisions," Stern said.

But Stern is also wary about implementing car-sharing in the North Village, because of its cost and use of parking spaces.

"The Flexcar idea hasn't been well-received because it takes away parking spaces from people who live here," Stern said.

In contrast to Fay, who said he believes the summer enforcement date is appropriate because it occurs before most leases are signed, Stern said the date is sneaky.

Since the North Village is filled with temporary and new residents over the summer, she said, they might be oblivious or indifferent to the situation.

The differing viewpoints in the community have made it difficult for Stern to create an organized group.

"It's hard to be cohesive with students gone and neighbors with different approaches," she said.

Students in the summer

Mossahebfar said it has been difficult for students to organize against the ban during the summer.

Many students are currently on summer break, and there has been minimal media coverage about the impending ban.

"This is a dead time for students," Mossahebfar said.

But Mossahebfar said students get excited and involved when there is a widespread effort and lots of publicity.

Last winter, students posted fliers around Westwood, started Facebook groups and collected signatures.

"I got 400 signatures alone during that time," she said.

The Facebook groups, with titles such as "Fight the Ban of Apron Parking!" and "I want to keep my apartment parking spot!" have shown little activity in the past few months.

Mossahebfar said students should realize that, united, they are a powerful force.

She urged students to start lobbying and petitioning to local officials once school starts.

With reports from Robert Faturechi, Bruin senior staff.