When it comes to attracting new businesses and buzz, Figueroa Street in Highland Park has been upstaged by York Boulevard, where new shops and cafes seem to open every week. What can be done to give Figueroa and other lagging Highland Park streets a boost? How about angled street parking? That was the idea proposed by City Council District 1 candidate Jose Gardea during a forum held earlier this week at Franklin High. Gardea, who also supports adding bike lanes to the historic street, said adding angled or diagonal street parking on a yet-to-be determined section of Figueroa would likely slow down traffic but would also make it easier to patronize local businesses. “I want it to be a destination boulevard–not a drive thru boulevard,” Gardea said during the forum.
But not everyone, including motorists and adjacent cities, might like the idea of angled parking and a slower-moving Figueroa.
Gardea said he does not know if diagonal parking would mean eliminating traffic lanes on Figueroa, a major north-south thoroughfare. “That would be a question for the engineers to look at,” said Gardea, 44, who currently serves as Chief of Staff for current First District Councilman, Ed Reyes, who is termed out of office.
Angled parking, which can be found along Brand Boulevard in Glendale and Larchmont Avenue in Larchmont, can boost the supply of parking spaces but has also raised concern about the safety of cars backing up in to traffic. Despite reservations, the addition of angled parking has been among the ideas proposed for stretches of Rowena Avenue in Silver Lake and Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock, where some have advocated for “reverse angled parking” in which vehicles back into the parking spaces.
Gardea, who appeared at the forum along with candidates Gil Cedillo, William Morrison and Jesse Rosas, warned that his proposal would likely be challenged by neighboring Pasadena and South Pasadena over concerns that slowing traffic on Figueroa would increase congestion in their communities. “In fact they are going to try and sue us. We will have to fight back,” said Gardea at the forum, sponsored by the Highland Park Neighborhood Council and Highland Park Heritage Trust.
“The objective is to really make Figueroa less of a drive-through [corridor] and much more of a local destination street,” Gardea said in an interview following the forum. “It’s an opportunity to support local business.”