Yo: The Guerrilla Parking Signs In Angelino Heights Were Removed, But The Creator Hopes To Inspire Others

Angelino Heights / Echo Park resident Derek Boonstra made a custom sign (the bottom one in black) to inspire courteous parking in his neighborhood. City workers removed them a few weeks later. (Courtesy Derek Boonstra)

Don't call Derek Boonstra a hero. The Angelino Heights / Echo Park resident just saw a chance to improve the sad state of parking in his neighborhood — and he knows how to use Photoshop.

A few weeks ago, the 36-year-old posted his own custom parking sign on West Kensington Road near Laveta Terrace. It read: "YO: Please maximize parking. Park 2-3 feet from other vehicles; park close to the ends of curbs."

Parking woes aren't unique to his neighborhood, but Boonstra said he and other community members have been voicing their concerns about the density problem for a while now, which gets particularly bad during Dodger home stands. That included reaching out to Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O'Farrell's office to recommend diagonal parking or permits as possible solutions, but that didn't really go anywhere.

Boonstra, who's lived in the neighborhood for 13 years, said it was the kind of idea a lot of Angelenos have probably had before. "I just happened to follow through on it first," he said.

Angelino Heights / Echo Park resident Derek Boonstra designed this custom parking sign as a way to encourage drivers to be mindful when they pull up to the curbs in his neighborhood. (Courtesy Derek Boonstra)

He posted a version of his design on his neighborhood Nextdoor page "to get buy-in from my neighbors and see if they had any objections." After constructive feedback and no objections, he put his plan into action, ordering his message and placing it on a pole under the city's parking sign.

It has the basic design scheme of the standard municipal parking signage, but was done in black (Boonstra said red would have made it seem more "angry and official").

"Anyone who sees that hopefully understands that it's not an official city sign," he said. "I wanted it to be something that would clearly be kind of a joke, but also communicate an idea that was helpful, theoretically, in a non-aggressive way."

After about three weeks, Boonstra posted two more signs on nearby streets, where they were soon shared on social media. Someone posted a photo of one of the signs in a community Facebook group, so Boonstra outed himself as the sign maker in a comment. He also shared the design and the website he used to have them made, empowering his neighbors to create their own.

And while there's no scientific way to know if the signs made a difference, Boonstra said he did notice some instances of more considerate parking on the curb across his street.

"It's reasonable to park four cars there, but a couple of times ... while I had the one sign up, there were five cars parked there," he said.

Angelino Heights resident Derek Boonstra said after he posted his unauthorized parking sign, he noticed more courteous parking on the curb across his street. (Courtesy Derek Boonstra)

But the resulting local media attention was "the beginning of the end," Boonstra explained. After a write-up in Los Angeles Magazine, local TV news picked up the story, and Boonstra suspects that's what alerted the city to the signs, which were taken down Friday morning.

"I find it all kind of absurd," he said, but clarified that he wasn't angry at the city for removing his signs.

"I kind of hoped... if they felt the need to take them down, that they would still respect that it came from a place of just trying to contribute to a solution of some kind," he said.

The Los Angeles Department of Transportation enforces parking in the city, and while they did not confirm to LAist that their workers removed the signs, they did send us a section of city code, which states: "The Department may, without notice, remove every unofficial sign, signal or device placed, maintained or displayed upon any City street contrary to the provisions of the Vehicle Code or of this chapter."

Councilman O'Farrell's office did not respond to a request for comment regarding the signs and parking problems in the neighborhood.

Boonstra said he's not planning to post his custom signs again ("don't want to poke the bear too much"), but he hopes the tools and design he made publicly available could inspire others to make their neighborhoods parking positive.

"It'd be cool if someday I'm driving around the the city and see somebody else did their own thing with it," he said.