By Edwin Folven, 10/13/2011
Proposal Would Still Prohibit Vehicles from Blocking Sidewalks
Some residents of Los Angeles may soon be able to park on the “aprons” of their driveways, the portion between the sidewalk and the street, without fear of getting a ticket, under a proposal approved Wednesday by the Los Angeles City Council.
Although the council approved the proposal in concept, it will take an undetermined amount of time to go into effect because the ordinance has to be drafted by the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office and has to come back to the city council for a second review. It will only affect residents who have enough room to park a car between the sidewalk and street without blocking the sidewalk, which would still be prohibited. The city is still considering whether to allow people to leave portions of their vehicles sticking out into the street, which will likely be addressed in the draft ordinance.
The proposal was authored by City Councilmembers Paul Koretz, 5th District, and Bill Rosendahl, 11th District, and seconded by Councilmember Tom LaBonge, 4th District. Residents have complained that they had long been parking on the aprons, but began receiving tickets during the summer.
Parking on the apron had been a violation of the city’s municipal code for decades, but the law was not enforced because it allows people to utilize space in their driveways for extra vehicles. In the spring, the City Attorney’s Office notified the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT), which enforces parking regulations, that the law about apron parking should be enforced because if not, it could open the city to liability in lawsuits filed under the American Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA requires that sidewalks remain unblocked for people in wheelchairs and with other disabilities, and Koretz said it will remain illegal to block sidewalks.
“There has never been a question about whether parking and blocking the sidewalk is illegal. That has always been illegal and will remain illegal. No one is trying to make it difficult for people to pass by on the sidewalk,” Koretz said. “What we have passed deals with the historic question of apron parking, which has never been enforced until recently.”
The reason the law was never enforced previously was not clear, but Bruce Gillman, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT), said tickets were only written when they received a complaint about a specific location. After the City Attorney’s Office warned about the potential liability of not enforcing the law, however, parking enforcement officers began ticketing vehicles parked on aprons on a regular basis. Paul Michael Neuman, a deputy to Koretz, said the issue was particularly problematic in Westwood around the University of California Angeles, were there are a lot of condominiums with limited parking, and a large amount of students living in one area. Neuman also said numerous complaints had been made throughout the Fifth Council District and in other parts of the city.
Gillman said the fine for parking on the apron is $58, which will remain in effect until the official ordinance is passed. Koretz added that it will likely take a “month or two” before it comes back to the city council and is signed into law by the mayor.