Not a lot of folks look at Los Angeles, much less the San Fernando Valley north of the main city, as a place that struggles with parking. Most Angelinos have a place to put their car, but when the time comes to go out and park the car for a night out, it’s a struggle. Los Angeles is trying something new: Reverse-only parking spaces in place of parallel spots. It’s going as well as you’d think.
Woodland Hills is a neighborhood of Los Angeles that exists on the western fringe of both Los Angeles County and the City of Los Angeles in the San Fernando Valley. It’s a busy sub-city that lives in the shadow of the Santa Monica mountains, just north of the Pacific Coast, and is largely residential in makeup. Two major thoroughfares neatly divide Woodland Hills: Topanga Canyon Boulevard and Ventura Blvd. Where Topanga Canyon Blvd is a four-lane road that acts mostly as a delivery conduit to malls and parking lots, Ventura Blvd has businesses that are served directly by the roads and had parallel parking–until now.
Last month, the parallel spots were converted to reverse-only diagonal spots to increase parking capacity along the busiest sections of Ventura Blvd. Though the change has been debated for years in city council chambers and public meetings, the majority of residents were unaware that the change would occur, even as the city has been trying to revitalize Ventura Blvd as a “small town Main Street.”
The Los Angeles Times reported that “Some [drivers] stopped traffic as they tried to reverse in. Others circled the block multiple times before attempting to park.” According to a business owner interviewed by the LA Times, “There was one girl who looked so confused and she circled the block something like six times before just quitting and driving away.”
The upside is that parking capacity was increased from 97 spots to 121 spots in a relatively small space. But residents and business owners have largely dismissed the change as a headache. Drivers don’t know how to navigate the parking and are driving across lanes of traffic to park head-in, disrupting the flow of a busy street. Some businesses suspect that sales have slowed because of the change, while others have seen no change other than confused customers.
Nonetheless, the city has no intentions to change it without major pushback. So while Angelenos are confused now, folks will have to adapt to the change.
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