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Parking Balloting Has Safety Valve

October 26, 1986|SUE AVERY | Times Staff Writer

MONROVIA — After months of controversy and flip-flopping over whether the city should ban overnight parking on neighborhood streets, the council agreed to let residents decide the issue on Nov. 4.

But just in case voters defeat Proposition X, the council gave itself an out by adding the advisory Proposition Y to the ballot.

Proposition Y asks voters whether the council should limit parking to alternate sides of the streets on street-sweeping days if the outright ban on overnight parking is defeated.

"We want a 'yes' vote on X," said Pat Myers of the Citizens for Cleaner, Safer Streets. "We are not interested in Y because it doesn't address the problem of safety and crime and will create sign pollution."

Wanda Wardwell, a leader of the opposition to Proposition X, said she is telling residents they should vote "yes" on Proposition Y or "no" on both measures.

In a ballot argument supporting Proposition Y, Wardwell wrote that it is "an excellent plan which accomplishes the goals of the citizens of Monrovia and inconveniences the fewest number of people."

Wardwell and Myers said their supporters are going door-to-door distributing pamphlets.

Wardwell said she opposes Proposition X because it violates constitutional rights.

"This law will violate certain civil rights," she wrote in the ballot argument. "Our garages are private property. No government agency has the right to treat them as if they were public property by telling us what all or part of our private garages are to be used for."

The ballot argument signed by Myers and other supporters of Proposition X contends that the parking ban would reduce the crime rate because police could determine quickly which cars were legally parked on the street. Permanent on-street parking permits would be given to residents who do not have sufficient parking on their property.

In an analysis of Proposition X, City Atty. Richard Morillo wrote that the measure could cut the crime rate and improve the appearance of neighborhoods. Disadvantages include inconvenience to residents who lack adequate parking space or who have converted garages to other uses.

The expected benefits of Proposition Y, Morillo wrote, would be easier street-cleaning and better looking neighborhoods. Expected disadvantages, he said, would include inconvenience to residents who could not park on the street on street-sweeping days and the aesthetic effects of signs explaining when cleaning would occur. It would cost between $50,000 and $60,000 to install the signs.

The parking issue surfaced about two years ago, when street sweepers found it increasingly difficult to clean the streets because so many cars were parked there overnight.

The city in 1984 sent questionnaires to all households in the city, seeking opinions on a potential parking ban. Nearly 54% of the 4,000 people who responded favored prohibiting overnight parking. About 35% favored other kinds of parking restrictions.

Because of the favorable response for some kind of restriction, the city in 1985 asked residents to voluntarily keep their cars off the street for three months on street-sweeping days. But the number of cars parked overnight declined by only 12%.

After holding two sparsely attended public hearings late last year, the council approved an overnight park ban in January, although it was never enforced.

However, the measure was met with angry opposition by residents of the city's central area, where the driveways and garages of many older homes do not provide enough parking.

Although there was a provision for exemptions, homeowners objected to inspections by city workers to determine if there was inadequate space to park cars off the street.

After weeks of verbal abuse from residents who packed City Council meetings, the council voted in March to hold a special election in the summer.

But the councilmen later reversed that decision after both proponents and opponents accused them of not being courageous enough to make a decision.

What was billed as the final public hearing on the matter in April drew more than 350 people. Speakers appeared to be evenly divided among those favoring the ordinance, those opposed to any parking restrictions and those willing to compromise.

The council then considered a compromise ordinance requiring residents to park on alternate sides of the street on street-sweeping days.

However, council members, deterred by the estimated cost of the signs and continued criticism from residents, repealed the January ordinance in July and decided in August to put the issue before the voters.

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