Residents who live near Santa Monica College, enraged at a deluge of students parking in their neighborhoods, demanded preferential parking within several blocks of the school at public hearing this week.
One speaker, Terri Hanauer, citing what she called slow progress toward solving the chronic problem, said residents have even considered blockading the area by stacking their garbage cans in the streets to keep students out.
She said that officials have been talking about the problem for years. "There has been no change in the last two years, except that I have had a baby," she said.
About 20 residents registered their complaints at the public hearing held Monday by the 19-member community-based Ad Hoc Parking Committee, which has been meeting since last fall in an effort to solve the college's parking problem.
In spite of the addition of 549 parking spaces on campus since 1980, the college needs an additional 2,120 spaces in the daytime and 1,360 at night, the committee reported.
To solve the shortage, the panel came up with four short-term proposals and four long-term recommendations that were presented for public comment at Monday's hearing at the college, 1900 Pico Blvd.
These are the proposals that would be put into effect this year if approved in April by the college board of trustees:
Closing Pearl Street between 16th and 17th streets and restriping to provide an additional 43 spaces in the center of the street.
Adding about 19 head-in spaces on Pearl Street, east of existing head-in spaces.
Establishing a ride/share program for Lot 3 on the Pearl Street side of the campus.
Creating a preferential parking zone for residents on 20th Street between Virginia Avenue and Ocean Park Boulevard.
These are the committee's long-range recommendations, listed in order of priority:
Building a subterranean garage under the college softball field and under the adjacent Lot 8, on the 16th Street side of the campus.
Building a structure on the Pearl Street Lot 3, with a traffic management plan including traffic control on 17th Street and mandating one-way traffic westbound on Cedar, Pine and Maple streets.
Replacing the administration building on Pico Boulevard with a parking structure extending onto the adjacent Lot 1.
Building a parking structure on Lot 4, at Pico and 16th Street next to the college's new $2-million, 370-space garage.
The four structures would cost about $20 million, which would be financed through revenue bonds, according to Tom Donner, the college's assistant superintendent of business services.
The committee did not specify the exact number of spaces that would be created if all the suggestions were adopted.
Jeanne Payne, chairwoman of the committee, said the group will review comments from Monday's meeting before presenting its final recommendations to the college board of trustees on April 6.
Stan Scholl, general services director for the city of Santa Monica and a member of the parking committee, said in an interview Tuesday that the committee has made substantial progress toward solving the college's chronic parking shortage.
"We are much closer to solutions than we were two or three years ago," he said.
Harm to College Feared
The city has resisted residents' pleas for extensive permit parking in the area because planners fear "it would almost destroy the college" by discouraging attendance, Scholl said.
"Or, it would cause a great displacement and people would be parking three blocks further away, and that wouldn't solve much," he said.
Scholl said that the city's policy has been not to grant permit parking requests as long as the college is making a "diligent" effort to provide adequate on-campus parking for students.
"In our opinion, the college has made diligent efforts," he said, such as rigorous enforcement of parking regulations and towing of illegally parked vehicles blocking driveways in residential areas.
Charles R. Donaldson, president of Santa Monica College's Academic Senate, praised the committee's proposals as "the first meaningful parking proposal I've seen come forth" in years of debate over parking.
The plan for underground parking would free space above ground for necessary instructional programs, he said.
But residents claimed Monday that the committee has provided only "Band-Aid" solutions that would not relieve congestion.
Resident Gerald Kissler received a round of applause from the audience when he said that "preferential parking is a must" within a three-block area of the campus, which is bounded by Pico Boulevard and 20th, Pearl and 16th streets.