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Friday, July 25, 2014

Atwater post office customers in a jam

Cars line up and wait for a space to open in front of Atwater post office.

Crowded conditions in the parking lot.

By Veronica Reynolds

An empty parking lot surrounded by a six-foot-tall chain link fence taunts the patrons of the adjacent Atwater Village post office as customers drop off and pick up their mail. Even during the somewhat slower times of the day, there are often times many more patrons than parking spots in the small lot in front of the Glendale Boulevard office, causing a traffic tie up that spills over into the street.

“We just get too much traffic here to not have that lot,” said local resident Kary Hightower of the fenced off lot that was once available to post office customers. “I think someone’s going to get hit”. In a letter sent last year to then Councilman and now mayor Eric Garcetti, Melissa Roth, Safety Director of the Atwater Village Chamber of Commerce, described conditions in the post office parking lot as “anarchy.”

“The community could use another parking lot, obviously,” said Ray Tamaio, who grew up in Atwater Village.

However, the fenced off corner lot that once accommodated up to 20 vehicles was closed last year after the Postal Service decided not to renew the lease as part of a cost-cutting measure. This decision has left 10 spaces available for patrons to park their cars in front of the the Atwater post office, which is officially know as Griffith Station.  As a result, there is relatively little that can be done to solve the often annoying and sometimes dangerous traffic situations.

With parking so limited, customers who arrive by car have no choice but to wait, often in the middle of traffic on Glendale Boulevard, or to search for a space on a nearby residential street. Choices are limited by the fact that street parking directly next the post office does not exist, forcing patrons to often drive at least a block away to find the next possible closest parking spot. Complicating matters is that many motorists have to wait on a traffic signal to change before they can make a left turn out of the lot.

Safety issues are a big concern for local residents. Traffic on Glendale Boulevard, one of the busier stretches in the neighborhood,  often backs up in front of the post office behind the vehicles waiting to pull into the now-tiny post office lot.  One one recent late afternoon, seven cars waited to enter the crowded lot.

“Oftentimes I can’t even get at the drop-off mailbox because people are sitting there, and I don’t blame them in a way because it’s really hard to park,” said Robin McCarthy, Silver Lake resident and graphic designer. “It’s better now that they moved the boxes over,” she said, referring to the recent relocation of the mailboxes from right side of the parking lot to the left side.

Meanwhile, the former post office lot at Glendale Boulevard and La Clede Avenue may not stand empty for long, according to neighborhood council member and Atwater Village Chamber of Commerce director Luis Lopez.

The current owners of the property are seeking to carve up the lot into nine individual parcels as part of a residential development.

20 comments

  1. “Relatively little can be done”? Just take the freaking fence down until the lot owners decide how they want use the lot. this is a public safety issue!…

    • I’m sure the post office would love that as much as the patrons, however the lot owners are pretty committed to the fence!

    • Going to the post office is so 1900′s y’all. you can do everything at home that you can do at the post office with stamps.com

      Use the promo code “adam” for a bunch of free postage and a meter.

  2. Renting the lot from the property owner seems like a temporary solution (I’m sure they will eventually develop the property.)

    It would be cool to eventually see a road diet on this stretch of Glendale in order to add angled parking spots along the entire corridor (like it is over by Tacos Via Corona, Kaldi, etc.)

  3. What’s the real origin of this nonsense? The fact that the USPS is required (unlike any other agency or organization, I believe) to fund all of its pension costs in advance).

    And in case you asked, I’d rather get rid of Saturday delivery and have convenient convenient customer parking.

  4. Would be great if they move the drive thru mailboxes to the back lot. That would clear up some traffic in the front.

  5. Not only does this affect the customers, but it affects us, the residents on La Clede and Perlita. Customers have no choice but to use the streets for parking and sometimes block our driveways and/or cause traffic. The halls that are rented for parties and events on Glendale would use the blocked off gated area as parking when it was available, but now they use our street as “valet parking”. The issue here is much larger than just “usps customers”

  6. The article goes a little over the top when it describes the current parking situation as “anarchy”. If so, I’ve managed to miss all the fun on my regular trips. In addition, the driveway exit allows traffic to exit right on red as well as left and straight with a green light. To increase exit traffic flow a bit, make a right, then make a couple more rights to get back onto Glendale Blvd. Another is to demarcate two exit lanes at the driveway; one for right turns only (road hogs need not comply). Another is to line up the many mailboxes on the sidewalk and allow drivers to temporarily park at the curb to discharge their mail from/adjacent to their vehicle. Other options are to park and walk a block (distance is exaggerated. I never have to walk more than 1/2 block from a street parking area), or ask your delivery person to p/u your mail (they still do that don’t they?).

    I find early mornings provide the most consistently accessible.

    • Wow! A thoughtful and logical comment, with good suggestions too! I’m impressed!

    • I agree that it’s hardly anarchy and most of the time that I pass on foot it seems hardly crowded so I’m guessing this is a peak-demand issue. Only the post office knows what services their customers are availing themselves of at these moments, so only they can figure out how to reduce the bottleneck. Hopefully, all windows are open during those times. If not, they need to open them. I assume they identified that some of the traffic was simply to put stamped mail in a mailbox without having to walk, hence the moved mailboxes. If any of it is for stamped parcels, then they need a parcel drop-off box, too. I doubt the exit driveway would easily support two exit lanes given how narrow it is, but it might help. If it is too narrow, right-turn only during peak hours might help.

      • I have actually seen people park in the red zones and double parking, and also parking in the driveway itself. I think anarchy is an accurate description.

        Making the exit “right-turn only” is an excellent idea.

  7. I agree. There are a handful of post office patrons who really need to park near the door: those mailing heavy boxes, or who are disabled. The majority don’t fall into either category and can find parking (in my experience) within half a block or less. I think the biggest problem is oblivious drivers who hover in the driveway hoping for parking, which leaves drivers behind them hanging into the fast-moving traffic lane. Very scary. The same thing happens at Trader Joe’s. Traffic calming measures and diagonal parking spaces are a great idea. In the meantime, I hope drivers will be aware of the cars behind them, and maybe plan on parking nearby rather than hanging out in the post office driveway.

  8. I just park in the spacious back lot around the corner where the employees and mail trucks park. I don’t think there are any signs discouraging this and I’ve never been hassled about it. Still the mellowest PO around (with the friendliest staff and coolest stamps for sale) no matter what time of day.

  9. Darnnit! we need to take up a collection among Atwater Postal Customers lined up in their cars waiting to enter the parking lot. As soon as we have $2,000 in the sack – we send a donation to the D.N.C. and say that its from owners of the corner parcel. This should eventually lead to USPS restoring funds for leasing the private lot as temporary additional parking.

    If that doesn’t work, then the Atwater community will need to lean on owners of the private parcel to sell out to a buyer from the D.N.C. approved cronies list – then we will get the parking back.

  10. Studies show that Atwater Village is the best place to site the United States Postal Services only facilty featuring roller skating stamp and parcel drive-up car window service.

  11. The easiest solution is to walk to the post office. Great exercise, and chance to enjoy the Village, and no traffic problems.

  12. When I’m in a hurry and the line at this P.O. is too long I go to Box Brothers a few blocks west. They can do anything the P.O. can, albeit, for a bit more money. And I’m in and out of there in no time.

  13. 10 parking spaces in a lot plus nearby adjacent curbside parking isn’t enough? Let’s just bulldoze the whole neighborhood, or just the adjacent historic homes and make PLENTY of parking for all– parking is an inherent right, isn’t it?

    When will people realize that we’re better off spending money to make modal shift towards other, more space efficient modes than spending money on creating parking lots.

    Bunch of whiners, I bet there’s parking 100ft away from the post office but that would require people… WALK and GET EXERCISE by moving their lazy asses for 30 seconds. Instead, people will circle for 5 minutes so they can park right in front and “not waste any time”.

  14. Who can I contact in the Postal System….to request a Dropbox like the former drive thru one they had in the previous drive thru lot…to be put in again? It used to have an opening that extended from the box….now they only have the ones that you manually open. Also it was at a height that one could easily access in a car. When one is disabled it is challenging to manage it while people are driving up behind you in a hurry. It cannot be so difficult to put those in again? They have them at the Eagle Rock Post Office.
    Also, I notice that the Social Hall that has events across the street on Glendale Blvd….uses those spaces for their valet parking in the evenings. Why is tax payer money going to help private business? Can’t the city work something out where the valets pay something for that space? What about liability issues?

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