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SMC Neighbors Press for More Remedies to Ease Crowded Parking

March 22, 1987|BARBARA BAIRD | Times Staff Writer

Under pressure from residents demanding immediate solutions to chronic parking congestion around Santa Monica College, a 19-member advisory committee has agreed to include some of their suggestions in its recommendations to the college Board of Trustees next month.

According to Tom Donner, the college's assistant superintendent for business operations, the committee has decided to make "some minor modifications" in an eight-point proposal that it presented recently at a public hearing.

School officials estimate that in spite of recent efforts to add more parking, the college needs 2,120 more spaces in the daytime and 1,360 more in the evening.

The committee proposed four short-term solutions including establishment of a preferential parking zone for residents on 20th Street between Virginia Street and Ocean Park Boulevard.

The committee's long-term solutions provide for one underground and three above-ground parking structures on the campus at 1900 Pico Blvd.

After hearing residents' strong support for more preferential parking and for off-site parking with a shuttle to the campus, the committee decided to add a park-and-ride recommendation to its list of long-range answers, Donner said last week.

The committee discussed the park-and-ride option at length in meetings dating back to last fall, Donner said, but was not included among the initial recommendations because no off-site parking locations could be immediately identified.

The problem with the park-and-ride plan, he said, is that "there is no place in the district to shuttle (students) from."

Residents have lauded UCLA's shuttle programs, he said, but UCLA has access to several public parking sites, such as the Federal Building and the Veterans Administration.

Suggestions that the college use Santa Monica's beach parking lots are impractical, Donner said, because the lots are needed for beachgoers from May to September.

There are few privately owned sites available, Donner said. The board considers the surrounding residential neighborhoods to be sacrosanct, he said.

"The board does not want to infringe that way into the community," he said. "We can't solve our parking problem by taking your home and tearing it down."

Because it is not clear where a park-and-ride lot could be established, the committee decided to place the shuttle idea among its long-term suggestions to give the college time to explore alternatives, he said.

'Token' Concession

Resident Duke Kelso in a telephone interview dismissed the committee's move as a "token" concession to neighbors who for years have been plagued with the college's chronic parking problem. Neighbors are upset that the committee did not announce to the public the meeting at which the changes in recommendations were made.

Residents want preferential parking zones established within a three-block radius of the college, not just on 20th Street as the committee proposed in its initial recommendations, Kelso said.

Donner said the committee has reworded its recommendation to suggest that preferential parking be established first on 20th Street, then in other areas, provided that the loss of on-street parking is offset by additional parking on campus and at other locations.

The committee also eliminated its initial suggestion that Cedar, Pine and Maple streets be made one-way in conjunction with the construction of a parking structure on the south side of the campus, Donner said.

And it added a suggestion that the college implement a program like UCLA's that encourages students to use public transportation and other alternatives instead of driving to school, he said.

The committee will present its revised findings to the Board of Trustees on April 6. A public hearing will be scheduled after the board has reviewed the report, Donner said.

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