HAWTHORNE — The City Council this week approved a measure tightening requirements for compact-car parking, undoing most of a controversial 1984 ordinance that allowed developers to design half of their required parking spaces for compact cars.
Before the ordinance permitting compact spaces was passed in 1984, the city permitted no compact spaces.
With compact parking spaces, which are narrower, shorter and have smaller turning radii than standard spaces, it became easier to meet the city's parking requirements for apartment buildings, particularly on small, narrow lots. Since the ordinance's passage in June, 1984, the number of buildings having between 5 and 20 units increased more than tenfold, according to city statistics.
Planning officials say the increase, which occurred at the same time that interest rates declined, was fostered in part by the compact parking ordinance.
Park on Streets
As the number of buildings on small narrow lots began to grow, planning officials began hearing complaints that getting in and out of the compact spaces was difficult and that residents would park on already crowded streets.
The 1984 ordinance permitted compact spaces that are 7 1/2-feet wide, 15-feet long and have a turning radius of 21 feet, compared to standard spaces, which are 8 1/2-feet wide, 18-feet long and have a turning radius of 26 feet.
Reconsideration of the ordinance began this spring after a controversy erupted over its passage in 1984.
Former Planning Director Jim Marquez, whose private apartment construction plans were stymied by the city's old requirements, suggested and pushed for the ordinance, according to court records. Marquez pleaded no contest April 2 in Inglewood Municipal Court to having a conflict of interest for recommending the ordinance while having a financial stake in its outcome.
Raise Builders' Costs
During recent debate before the Planning Commission on tightening the compact requirements, developers argued that the tougher requirements would impose new limits on the number of permitted units in an apartment building and place additional costs on development.
But Planning Commissioner James Nakai said in an interview that parking was too difficult in apartments built on narrow lots and that people would park on streets to avoid the compact spaces.
The revised ordinance permits no compact spaces for buildings having up to 10 required parking spaces; one compact space for buildings with 11 to 13 spaces; two for buildings with 13 to 20 spaces; three for buildings with 21 to 26 spaces; four for buildings with 27 to 30 spaces and 30% for buildings with 31 or more spaces.
The council vote on the revision was 4 to 1, with Councilman Steve Andersen voting against the measure.