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Old Pasadena a Win, Westwood a Fail and What Parking Rates Could Have to do With it

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In today's LA Times, Martha Groves profiles UCLA Professor and "parking rockstar" Donald Shoup. If you don't know about him, you should, as he's someone local whose ideas about urban planning are affecting cities everywhere. One of his most frequently cited concepts is not subsidizing free parking, putting it at fair market value and using the revenues to improve that neighborhood directly.

So what did Los Angeles do when it increased parking rates in 2008? Took the money for its depleting general fund. But that's nothing new.

In 1993, Westwood merchants petitioned L.A. city officials to decrease meter rates from one dollar to fifty cents, which in turn brought overcrowded curbside parking. Still, the revenues raised were not kept in the neighborhood and these days you have a relatively sleepy commercial district (especially in the summer when UCLA is on break) where "residents and merchants bemoan the cracked, trash-strewn sidewalks, neglected landscaping and numerous vacancies," as Groves put it.