The Santa Monica City Council unanimously approved a preferential parking zone for residents near Santa Monica College and assured college officials that the city would help them solve their parking crunch.
The 6-0 vote--Councilman Herb Katz abstained because he lives in the zone--came after nearly four hours of spirited discussion during which about 50 residents, college officials and students addressed the council. More than 200 residents attended the Tuesday night meeting.
Mayor James P. Conn, who previously has expressed unwillingness to support preferential parking near the college, conceded that the six-year dispute between the college and neighbors was "a penumbra . . . certainly something that I basically had given up hope on.
"I'm not willing to put this college's asset to our community in jeopardy on the question of parking," he said, "but I do believe that (preferential parking) is a possible compromise."
Earlier, Councilman David B. Finkel told Carole Currey, chairwoman of the college board of trustees: "I want you to know that we're hanging in there with you because we know you're a very important resource to this city."
Community leaders praised the council's decision and promised to meet with college officials to seek other solutions.
"It's not the end; it's the beginning," said Regula Ziegler, a Grant Street resident.
College President Richard Moore said the willingness of the council and the neighbors to help resolve the problem was encouraging although he did not agree that preferential parking was a solution.
The council ordered the city attorney to draft an ordinance establishing an irregular preferential parking zone that extends north on 14th Street to Pico Boulevard and east to 17th Street, north to Delaware Avenue, east to 20th Street, south to Pico Boulevard, east to 23rd Street, south to Pearl Street, west to 21st Street, south to Ocean Park Boulevard, and west to 14th Street.
The hours for resident-only parking have been tentatively set from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. weekdays. Residents will pay $15 per car. The zone is expected to be implemented June, 1988. Traffic consultant Dick Kaku, who conducted a traffic study near the college, told the council that in the area where preferential parking will be implemented, 1,440 parking spaces in front of private homes were occupied by 790 student cars during peak class hours. There are 1,760 parking spaces in the zone, Kaku said.
Overall, Kaku reported, the study included a 30-block area around the college, where 2,710 parking spaces were occupied by 1,370 student cars during peak hours.
City Manager John Jalili said city staff will consider including the rest of the 30-block neighborhood in the zone in the future.
The council agreed to allocate city funds for temporary shuttle parking at two nearby development sites.
During the hearing on the proposal, angry residents blamed students for dirty streets, dangerous thoroughfares and a parking shortage.
Student David Melnic said the parking ban created "additional obstacles which students must overcome in order to continue their education."