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Put up more parking lots

November 14, 2005

ALTHOUGH THE GOOD NEWS about the Red Line subway is that it's attracting thousands of riders from the San Fernando Valley who commute into the L.A. Basin, the bad news is that there's no place left for all of them to park. The parking lots at the North Hollywood and Universal City stations, which have a

combined total of 1,491 spaces, are nearly always full by 7:30 a.m. on weekdays. Untold numbers of potential riders who live beyond walking distance drive to a station, circle around in search of a space, then give up and drive to work. That's no way to get people off the freeways.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority's strategy for getting more parking is to get somebody else to pay for it. The agency is trying to encourage developers to build large projects -- preferably something like high-rise apartment buildings -- on the land now devoted to parking. Any new building would have to include a multilevel garage and devote a portion of it to free commuter parking in addition to tenant parking, creating significantly more spaces than in the existing lots.

Sticking the bill to developers rather than taxpayers isn't a bad idea. The problem is the glacial speed of the process. More than five years after the Valley's Red Line extension opened, the MTA, the Community Redevelopment Agency and the city of Los Angeles are still working out the details on the package to be offered to developers. They need to hurry up already.

Meanwhile, there is some hope for Valley commuters. The recently opened Orange Line busway, whose eastern terminus is the North Hollywood Red Line station, has more than 3,200 parking spaces at five stations. Commuters can park at an Orange Line station and ride the busway to the subway.

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