If you live in LA, you own a car. This is a truism. And if you own a car, you need a place to park.
This can be more problematic in some neighborhoods than others, of course, and parking is harder to find in some parts of the city than in other parts. In some hoods though, it can just be crazy.
The city of Los Angeles, in its chipper public service goody-two-shoes face, assures the good citizens of LA that it provides “convenient customer parking” throughout the city of Los Angeles with “more than 11,500 parking spaces.”
Which is cute, until you realize that there are more than six million cars in Los Angeles. LA, in fact, has one of the nation’s highest rates of car ownership per capita. This leads to a lot of pressure on residents, visitors and tourists alike who all battle, looking for a place to park their car.
Los Angeles has an incredibly high population density, with 40,000 people crammed into each square mile, and for many of them, it seems that at least half that number at any given time are circling the block looking for a parking spot.
Los Angelenos over the years have downsized their cars often, with tiny Smart Cars becoming commonplace.
Koreatown is one example of a place where it’s a daily battle to try and park in LA. As the LA Times reports, many residents pray to the divine regularly in their search for a parking place.
In fact, parking spaces are so rare (garages being practically non-existent or hugely expensive), that when a resident does catch a miraculously free stretch of curb space, they often then leave their car there for as long as a week at a time and take the bus, according to the Times, and many times, residents of Koreatown turn down dinner invitations if it means that they will have to move their car and lose their parking spot.
One (illegal) tactic used sometimes by desperate residents of Koreatown is to spray paint over a red curb (which indicates that parking is prohibited) with gray paint.
The parking situation in Koreatown is so famously bad that a standoff at 5th and Catalina Streets involving two cars sparring for one spot lasted for more than 90 minutes and was broadcast live, even making the national news around the United States.
Other Neighborhoods Where Parking Can Be a “Bloodsport”
We are, of course, kidding about the “bloodsport” thing (though there is the famous old story about a man stabbed to death over a parking spot in Anaheim in 1991).
In the end, the neighborhoods with the highest population density and the oldest construction are going to be the ones with the biggest parking issues. Wealthy neighborhoods with more single-family homes or condos that have new construction that includes parking garages underground will have less trouble parking on the street.
Neighborhoods like Koreatown or Westlake, East Hollywood and Pico-Union and old neighborhoods with very high population density (more than 25,000 people per square mile) will always have problems with street parking.
In these neighborhoods of older apartment buildings with no included parking garages or underground facilities, developers were not required to ensure any amount of parking spaces per unit (as they are now). This leaves all the people in all those homes fighting for the same few spots on the curb.
Maywood, Harvard Heights, Hollywood and Walnut Park might be better off, but only slightly, with population densities just over 20,000 people per square mile.
What This Means for Everyday Angelenos
People waste real money and real time in the fight and the struggle to find parking. It’s nothing for people seeking a parking space to circle blocks in their neighborhood for 45 minutes to an hour looking in vain for a place to put their car. Techniques range from following street sweepers to stalking people with shopping bags, hoping that they are heading to their car.
One study indicated that Angelenos may drive up to an extra 3,000 miles per year looking for parking and rack up almost $2,000 in extra costs just in search of the elusive wonder of a parking space. If you are driving and looking to park in Los Angeles, friends, we wish you luck!