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Van Nuys Flyaway Parking to Be Halved During Expansion Project

Services: Yearlong construction will be especially hard on LAX workers who commute.


The upcoming construction of a larger Van Nuys Flyaway parking facility will cause a temporary reduction in the number of available spaces for workers and travelers headed for Los Angeles International Airport, officials say.

The park-and-ride lot, which has about 2,000 long-term parking spaces, will be cut back to 841 for more than a year after construction begins in November, officials said.

Although plans for the $42-million construction project by Los Angeles World Airports, which operates LAX as well as Van Nuys Airport, calls for a total of nearly 3,000 spaces by December 2003, many commuters are not happy.

"Everybody's pretty upset," said Steve Purvis of Chatsworth, a senior customer relations officer for Qantas Airways. "People have been talking about switching jobs."

Currently, the lot has 100 spaces set aside for people who work at LAX, who comprise about 9% of the lot's 900,000 annual passenger trips, said Stacy Geere, a spokeswoman for Van Nuys Airport. About 700 people who work at LAX have paid for a $10 annual pass for parking in those employee-only spaces, officials said.

Starting in mid-October, those spaces will be displaced to make way for construction, during which employees can pay $4 a day if they want to park in the public lot, Geere said.

Officials are not yet certain what they will do about employee parking in the future.

"It shows a complete lack of regard for the employees," said John Aaron, a Continental Airlines baggage worker who has used the Flyaway for 23 years.

He estimated that the airport's new policy could cost workers hundreds of dollars a year in extra parking fees, which many could not afford.

The Flyaway, which is next to Van Nuys Airport, currently offers seven-days-a-week, 24-hours-a-day bus service that runs as frequently as every 15 minutes to LAX, for $6.50 round trip.

The expanded Flyaway, which will include a four-story parking structure, will be able to handle up to 12 buses an hour, Geere said.

Offering more buses per hour will allow for better connections with buses run by other agencies, such as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Santa Clarita Transit.

Earlier plans for the new Flyaway to offer baggage check-in are on hold because of new security measures required by the federal government, Geere said.

But the expanded facilities will still include space to accommodate baggage check-in if airport officials decide to offer that later.

A second phase of the construction project, not yet scheduled, is expected to expand the parking lot to 3,917 spaces, Geere said.

Officials said the Flyaway is being expanded to accommodate LAX's expected growth.

For years, the Flyaway's long-term parking lot got so crowded around holidays that drivers turned away at its entrance would either have to go on to LAX or park on nearby streets.

Some nearby residents, who depend on street parking because their houses don't have driveways, have been planting "no parking" signs in front of their yards to keep Flyaway riders away.

Margarita Tamayo, 52, said holiday travelers used to clog her neighborhood with parked cars. But the situation improved, she said, after she put orange traffic cones in the street in front of her home on Collett Avenue.

Tamayo, who must park as close as possible to her house because she has a disabled daughter, said she believes the expansion will be better for her neighborhood by offering more parking spaces for travelers.

Some travelers said they would begin asking relatives or friends to drop them off, or use a different shuttle service for rides to LAX, or just drive themselves.

John Pantermuehl, a Sun Valley businessman and frequent flier out of LAX, said he was disappointed to hear about the temporary reduction in parking spaces.

"That's a bummer," said Pantermuehl, who has used the lot about once a month for the last 12 years.

"It's going to force a lot more people to use the [San Diego Freeway] and increase traffic."

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