Melrose Avenue merchants say they will fight an attempt by area residents to establish preferential parking on busy neighborhood streets.
Residents who live near the 8100 block of Melrose Avenue are asking for relief from congestion caused by overflow parking from businesses.
During a recent hearing held by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, residents complained that they can't find parking spaces in front of their own homes, and asked for preferential parking on six blocks bounded by Harper Avenue on the west, Kilkea Drive on the east, Waring Avenue on the north and Rosewood Avenue on the south. There are only time limits for parking on the streets.
Richard Jebejian, owner of an upholstery shop at 7403 Melrose Ave., opposes the special permits for residents. Although the proposed preferential parking area is several blocks west of his shop, he said he fears that the movement to block shoppers from parking on residential streets will spread quickly. Jebejian said he and other merchants will seek alternatives to resolve the parking crisis.
There are not enough parking spaces on Melrose Avenue to satisfy commercial needs, he said, and most of the businesses do not have the space to provide off-street parking to their customers.
Jebejian said the proposed parking restrictions come when his shop and nearby stores are beginning to share some of the success of the popular clothing boutiques, galleries, antique shops and restaurants on the Melrose strip.
"It will destroy Melrose," he said. "These business people depend on Saturday business. We can't afford to move to the Beverly Center, or Westwood. (The proposed preferential) parking is only a few blocks now, but it's like a cancer. It will come to our end of Melrose."
Richard Jaramillo of the Department of Transportation agreed with Jebejian's prediction that the idea will spread. "The likelihood is that once you put preferential parking in the first few blocks, some of the (other residents) have a tendency to petition for it," he said.
Mark Lonow, co-owner of the Improvisation Cafe at 8162 Melrose Ave., said local merchants have hired an attorney and are meeting regularly to find ways to solve the parking problem. One proposal is imposing preferential parking on only one side of residential streets. There are also efforts under way to use nearby Fairfax High School for parking and shuttle customers back and forth on buses.
"The streets belong to all of us, we all pay taxes," said Dan Postar, owner of an antique shop at 7427 Melrose Ave.
If resident-only parking is approved, it would limit each household to three parking spaces at $15 each per year. Each household also would be entitled to purchase two six-month visitor parking permits at $10 each. One-day guest parking permits also would be available for $1 each.
Jaramillo said another public hearing will be scheduled on the proposal in about two months before the Transportation and Traffic Committee of the City Council.