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Breaking Down the Highland Park Transit Village's Parking Plan

The developers promise to replace any parking stalls that would be lost, but some wonder if that will that be enough to compensate for the increase in population.

Locals have expressed numerous concerns about the proposed Highland Park Transit Village, which would transform three city-owned parking lots near the Metro Gold Line Station into 60 affordable apartment units and 20 for-sale condos.

Chief among those concerns expressed by attendees of Thursday evening's Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council meeting was how the new development would parking impact parking in the neighborhood.

According to tentative plans presented by developers McCormack, Baron, Salazar, the project would be built on the current location of 221 Los Angeles Department of Transportation parking stalls.

Louis Bernardy, Vice President of McCormack, Baron Salazar, those parking stalls would be replaced through a mixture of below ground and surface level parking.

"There will be a one to one replacement of city owned parking stalls," Bernardy said during a phone interview on Wednesday.

According to plans provided to Patch by Bernardy, 104 of those parking spaces would be split between site 1, which is located between Avenue 57 and 58 behind North Figueroa Street, and site 2, which located west of Avenue 59 behind North Figueroa Street.

Those 104 stalls would be split between below ground/garage and surface level spaces.

The remaining 116 spots would be located on site 3, located between Avenues 56 and 57 behind North Figueroa Street, where the 20 for-sale condo units would be built. All 116 spots would be located in a below ground parking structure. 

Each development would also be designed with resident-only parking as requried by city building codes. For the condos, two parking stalls would be assigned to every unit. The plans also call for one guest parking spot for every four condo units.

The parking ratio for the affordable apartments were not made clear in the plans provided by McCormack, Baron, Salazar. However, during Thursday's meeting, Vice President Daniel Falcon Jr. indicated that each apartment would be assigned one parking spot.

That ratio, in particular, was of concern to Miguel Hernandez, owner of nearby Antigua Bread.

"My concern, during the construction, and after it's completed, is parking," said Miguel Hernandez, owner of Antigua Bread on 5703 North Figueroa St. "They have three bedroom units, with one parking spot. Where's everybody else going to park? If you multiply 80 units, by two cars, that's 160 parking spots being taken. So, I'm going to be losing customers."

Asked to address those concerns during an interview on Wednesday, Bernardy said that McCormack, Baron, Salazar was aware of the neighborhood's concerns about parking, and was primarily concerned with building the development to required codes.

"We follow building codes. The project we're building is affordable, and hopefully will steer folks to public transit. For sure, we would never be able to develop a  project that would meet everyone's desire when it comes to parking," Bernardy said. "One development will never solve a neighborhood's parking issue. We make sure we build it to code. We can also work with community and talk about ways we can mitigate that. It's always gonna be divisive."

The City of Los Angeles entered a joint development agreement with to build the Highland Park Transit Village. The project still has an "extensive entitlement package" that must be completed before it can be built, Bernardy said.

Monte Vista Neighbor January 24, 2013 at 09:08 PM
Yes, parking is a concern because the current configuration is such a benefit to the businesses on N. Figueroa. Housing right next to the Goldline station is great, but the transition in terms of parking would be tricky. I would hate to see the business community suffer during construction and after completion. The public parking being replaced in proposed underground lots would require significant signage to be effective.
Ish January 24, 2013 at 09:19 PM
Why exactly does something have to be built there? Why can't it be left the way it is? I see plenty of cars parked there from those who use the train. It's not like it's not getting used. I thought Highland Park was going through "gentrification" which usually bring up home values. "Affordable housing" is the exact opposite of that. It will definitely drop surrounding home values. Also, statistics have shown that with affordable housing comes crime. We already have enough shady characters near the train station. Someone was shot last year near there, someone had their phone stolen a few weeks ago, Antigua bread customers were randomly attacked, and they had their tips stolen.
Hooper Humperdink January 24, 2013 at 10:20 PM
With all this concern over parking at a transit-adjacent residential building, let's remind ourselves that the parking lot under the South Pasadena station costs the city at least $80,000 per year to clean, maintain, and police. This is money not covered by parking fees, not covered by HOA dues, and is a money LOSER. Let's please make this project pencil out without any public monies. Whether there is "enough" parking or not (and there is no real science to figuring out "enough" - but plenty of huckster that will sell you a monorail to go along with a parking plan) we need to make sure that this place is built to sustain local commerce and a high quality of life well into the future without public subsidy. If the project requires the city to gift the land - then why are we doing this? I thought we had a budget shortfall of $100 million this next year? We need the rents, property taxes, sales taxes, and business license income to pay for all these new residents. Parking should not be the priority here. The majority of local business serves walk-up, transit, and (rarely) bike-based shoppers. A train station is an ideal place to put housing - just give us room for outdoor ground floor retail seating, places to sit and mingle in the shade, and room for socializing, gardening and talking trash in person (aka gossiping with neighbors).
Rev M G Martinez, ULC January 24, 2013 at 10:54 PM
So, that's 105 additional parking spots? 60 for the working poor in the apartments, 45 for the beautiful people in the condos. OK, I think I got it now. A potential for 105 more cars to clog the street. This is in addition to proposed bike lanes, to future compond the congestion! Talk about a Bottle Neck! Why don't these people just leave us alone? They come here, proclaiming their love for the area, and the first thing they want to do is change it!
David January 24, 2013 at 11:09 PM
The guy who runs Antigua thinks that building 80 housing units within walking distance would be bad for business? The author should ask if he's ever seen any of those lots at more than 50% of capacity. The entire purpose of transit-oriented development is to make it possible for residents to not own cars. This seems like an extraordinarily worthwhile project, it would be a real shame to see it railroaded by the short-sightedness of adjacent business owners.
El Cid January 24, 2013 at 11:13 PM
I would welcome the developer spelling it out for me. What is affordable? "How much will the units cost? How much will the rent be for tenants?" I am confident the developer knows what they can expect out of this venture. The developer states, "We can also work with community..." I'd like to know specifically who the developer has worked with on this project? At the meetings I attended, most people in the audience over the last five years were opposed to the enormity of the project, the lack of green space, the aesthetics, parking etc.... Does the developer mean - worked with the community, as in ED REYES?
Creper Chimone January 24, 2013 at 11:24 PM
You only have to look at what happened on echo park ave with the new construction of those town houses, they have spots and parking and traffic there is a real issue. people who can afford to buy those condos will have cars and if they take the train those cars will be taking up parking spaces all day. i was just at antigua this week and though i walk there most of their customers do park in back, i often hear people there complain they can never park on fig and are thankful for the lot in back, so i'm sure what the owner is referring to.
Creper Chimone January 24, 2013 at 11:25 PM
Yes i am always puzzled by this too, they love the area so much they want to take over and ruin a historic street like Fig.
Hooper Humperdink January 24, 2013 at 11:35 PM
The "common sense" business people in downtown Highland Park base their assumptions on the business climate in regions that are not Highland Park. They are thinking about Irvine, Tustin, Rancho Cucamonga, etc. where most customers are totally car dependent and don't walk to local shops. Despite having most of our streets turned into a crappy urban street-rural road hybrid, most shoppers in the area still walk up to eat, shop, etc. If Antigua interviewed all his customers, and the customers of the businesses located along his block, I think his ind might be changed. The businesses in South Pasadena have made a fairly good go of things next to a train station and mega-TOD development at the train station ($250 million MTA condos and retail). The parking issues shouldn't be the primary concern here. These structures will exist long after this developer has made their money and left the 'hood. The building should be built to take into account a wide variety of local businesses and residential styles in the long term. There should be public amenities to make the station a nice place to meet and mingle. This place looks like a craftsman monopoly-board-style bunker. I owned a business adjacent these parking lots and I never, never, saw them full. Even in the height of the holiday shopping season.
elmo January 24, 2013 at 11:51 PM
Nothing is built yet. Let's press the giant RESTART BUTTON and turn the big lot behind Antigua (site 2) into a public garden, bushes, planters, trails and more trees, along with benches, a fountain, and lighting. The community needs this more than housing. It would make a Highland Park a destination on the Gold Line. While were at it, could we please redesign the Highland Park Gold Line Station into something we can be proud of?
elozano January 25, 2013 at 04:29 AM
After reading the articles and the comments, many of which sound very informed, I'm of the opinion that this is a bad idea: Increased density, low income housing, low income residents, diminishing available parking. This just stinks of a give away to the developers and will leave Highland Park as a less desirable place to live.
StevieB January 25, 2013 at 02:45 PM
I have lived in the area for over 50 years and went to school here so remember when Highland Park had two department stores, a See's Candy store, Fosselman's Ice Cream store, and lively pedestrian activity. Now between Avenue 55 and Avenue 60 there are shuttered store fronts on every block and the parking lots are never more than half filled. The parking lots upon which housing is to be built are underused and costly to the city. A third of downtown Los Angeles real estate is parking which costs a city enormous amounts in property tax. By building housing on the half empty parking lots in Highland Park you increase the tax base through property taxes and sales taxes from the goods the tenants purchase in the local area. Local taxes pay for increased street repairs and maintenance. The taxes pay for police and fire departments. Highland Park business cannot compete with large box stores on selection or price so need convenience as a selling point. Increasing the number of customers able to walk to North Figueroa stores will increase sales. With increased sales perhaps new business will locate in the former Security Pacific bank that has remained empty for many years or the recently closed Pep Boys store or the hardware store adjacent to the Highland Theater.
dee-aych January 25, 2013 at 03:40 PM
What is the point of this development? Highland Park is already crowded. Why is this being done? We don't need it. We need parking. We need to study and follow Pasadena's example of how Colorado Blvd was improved.... and I will guarantee that did not involve putting in a large, low income housing project near a major business district. You want to attract customers not repel them. We already have major issues in the neighborhood with low income apartments with 8 units!!!! Imagine putting 50 in one place!?!?! We do not need this. It is being done for the sake of making money, not the community's well being. This reeks of greed.
Tom Marble January 25, 2013 at 04:38 PM
This will only bring customers to that stretch of Figueroa. It will provide ample parking for both residents and visitors. Most importantly it will remove the blight of a empty lot -- something that plagues most of the city. This sort of transit development works -- look what happened in South Pasadena near the Mission/Meridian stop. It totally injected a customer base for all those shops that were floundering.
Caroline January 25, 2013 at 04:58 PM
First, I know of no other developer who is currently building condos, so the "Phase B" may simply be a ruse. It may never be built and we will end up with a concentrated 100% low income housing development. This would be Ed Reye's legacy and gift to the community -- exacerbating existing social ills of Highland Park when it is finally a hot real estate market. I have not forgiven the Council office for the disastrous affordable apartments at Avenue 26/Cypress Park station. Horrible. The developer was gifted by Reyes seriously reduced parking inside the complex. The snake oil claim that people living there would discard their cars and ride transit has in NO WAY come to pass. What has come to pass is that every night, residents drive their cars around the block trying to find parking. They park in front of warehouse loading docks and they intrude into the adjoining single family neighborhood. People who have invested in homes and who are bringing back Highland Park ought to be alarmed. There might be an innovative project for this place, but Highland Park should aspire to a new developer with a better vision than the insult that our community only can support low income housing. If that is true, why did Reddit Real Estate just rank Highland Park as the top real estate market in the country? We can do better. Let the negotiating agreement with BMS expire, Ed.
Cerro Gordo January 25, 2013 at 08:42 PM
Yeah, I agree with this. I don't think the transit village is the end of the world, but you're totally right.
Punk Attitude January 25, 2013 at 09:24 PM
I have to agree that with affordable housing comes crime. It's sad but true and usually due to the density that no one is going to be able to traffic. A three bedroom unit will have more 6 people living there trust me. No manager on-site as was proposed for the project will be able to police nor will they bother. It doesn't happen in LA proper so why in this particular project. Has anyone thought about the increase in sewage and if it's manageable with that many units in that area. What about an increase in energy which we all know from last years outages that more people will increase the power outages. Highland Park infrastructure is outdated. And for a fact, increases in apartments where they are residential homes brings down the value of the homes. Why is this important? Because apartment dwellers do not pay the property taxes! Residential homeowners pay the property taxes. The businesses AND the current residents in earshot of the projects will be losing their own parking and be inundated with traffic. There's plenty of affordable low income housing in Highland Park already. These developers have already stated they aren't concerned about parking either. Take the money and run! Can HP get out of this exploratory agreement with these people? I would rather see a community garden or some fixed public art project with outdoor seating and some green grass.
Punk Attitude January 25, 2013 at 09:27 PM
Sorry - but more people in one area on Figueroa will not increase more for the existing businesses on Fig. HP isn't South Pasadena. There's no Stone Brewery to attract people! (ha ha).
Ish January 25, 2013 at 10:23 PM
Seems that most people here oppose this idea. Now how do we go about voting against it?
David Fonseca (Editor) January 26, 2013 at 12:24 AM
I'm not sure the community will be able to vote on this issues, however, anyone can make their opinions known by attending HHPNC meetings or by writing a letter to Council District 1. http://cd1.lacity.org/CONTACTUS/index.htm
Rev M G Martinez, ULC January 26, 2013 at 12:38 AM
One more crazy head's up the neighborhood should be aware of, is that Sun's Resturant is in danger of being put out of business, after nearly 3 decades of being family owned. For some reason, that is not all together clear, the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council voted to support a development of apartments at that location. The development will also include the old Foxy's bike shop. This is in addition to proposed bike lanes, and a monsterous project on Burwood. The HHPNC made a hugh mistake in supporting developers over a long time, family owned business. The decision to do is completely incomprehendsible, and indefensable. Next week, people opposed can make their feelings known. this is the info: Los Angeles City Hall Hearing by- Associate Zoning Admin 200 N. Spring St. room 1020 Los Angeles, Ca. 90012 Wed. Jan. 30, 2013 Staff contact: Christina Toy Lee phone # 213-473-9723 christina.toy-lee@lacity.org case# ZA 2012-3088(ZV)
StevieB January 26, 2013 at 01:52 PM
Highland Park has excess parking with lots nearly empty on both sides of Figueroa. What is needed is more people within walking distance of the Gold Line station and the shops. More train riders mean more frequent trains are put in service. More shop customers mean more shops open in the shuttered storefronts along Figueroa. The population of Los Angeles will continue to increase and infill housing within walking distance to transportation and shopping benefits not just the people in the houses but everyone in the city.
StevieB January 26, 2013 at 02:08 PM
More photos of the parking lots and the adjacent area are needed to show just how empty and wasteful they are. There is an opportunity to turn a barren stretch of land into a pedestrian friendly space.
Sustainable Solutions February 03, 2013 at 01:41 AM
When is the next HHPNC meeting?
Lisa Duardo March 13, 2013 at 06:31 AM
HPOZ Postponed approving a portion of MBS Transit Complexes today! Now the HPcommunity has to figure out how to get these three parking lots significant to our HPOZ. These parking lots afford all of us natural open space to view the lovely hills of Debs Park-a big park of the history of why folks settled here. Next attend next HHPNC March 21st 7pm @ the Senior Center (Fig&York).Be on time as MBS are going to present first. Lets save our open spaces in the interest of health and welfare of all people.
axolotl1 April 29, 2013 at 06:34 PM
Will there be another HHPNC meeting? Low income housing projects are the LAST thing we need here! Please tell me this isn't settled yet.

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