The Los Angeles City Council tentatively approved an ordinance Tuesday that could have far-reaching implications for businesses in Highland Park as well as certain buildings in the neighborhood.
The ordinance will allow for relaxed parking requirements for new or renovated buildings in designated areas of the city, a move aimed at spurring development and creating more density around transit hubs.
The council voted 11-1 in favor of the ordinance, which allows for the creation of new parking districts, in which developers, building owners and existing businesses can use a menu of seven different parking requirements.
The lack of a unanimous vote triggered a second reading scheduled on Aug. 21, requiring a simple majority vote of the 15-member council.
Under the ordinance, landlords of apartment buildings could satisfy per-unit parking requirements by making agreements for tenants to use parking spaces that are within 1,500 feet of the building.
The City Council will have to approve any district that proposes to use decreased parking and agree that transportation alternatives or other infrastructure improvements negate the need for increased parking. If there is a lack of transit options in a proposed district or a likelihood that a project will lead to spillover parking problems on adjacent residential areas, the council can require more parking than is permitted under existing zoning code.
Additionally, developers can obtain commercial parking credits if they can demonstrate under-utilized parking in the district.
Councilmember Paul Koretz, who represents Century, City, Sherman Oaks, Westwood, Bel Air, Cheviot Hills, Fairfax and Pico-Robertson, cast the dissenting vote.
“My constituents have expressed their concerns that this will be too flexible in terms of the ability to reduce parking, especially in a district that is already much too short in parking,'' Koretz said.
Councilmember Ed Reyes, who shepherded the parking ordinance through the approval process, said the districts must come from the communities they would affect.
“It does not come from above down—it only gets triggered if it comes from you,'' Reyes said. “We will have a rigorous discussion every time this appears on our radar.''
Creating one of the districts would require the signatures of at least 75 percent of the owners or lessees of property in the proposed district, and the zones have to be at least two blocks or five acres in area.
The plan was supported by the Central City Association, which advocates for businesses and development downtown, and Fixing Angelenos Stuck in Traffic, a nonprofit group that supports an enhanced transit system.
FAST spokesperson Evelyn Jerome Alexander told the council the ordinance "will improve the walkability of our commercial and mixed-use areas and benefit the entire community by bringing these areas to life.''
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