Looking for a parking space in Echo Park? Good luck

Photo by Connie Acosta

Photo by Connie Acosta


ECHO PARK — “Where can I park?” is a frequently asked question in Echo Park. Coming up with a helpful answer, however, can often be a challenge.

Shoppers, bar-hoppers, restaurant patrons and Dodger fans can fill up almost all available street spaces on Sunset Boulevard and surrounding residential streets. Street cleaning, movie shoots and Sunday morning church services can also leave motorists circling the block looking for a space.

Despite efforts by city officials and businesses to ease the parking crunch, finding an empty space can sometimes be hard to find for visitors as well as residents.

“It depends on the day and time when you can find parking,” said Rhonda Reynolds, who co-owns Masa of Echo Park at the corner of Sunset Boulevard at Lemoyne Street. “Best parking is any day before 6 p.m. and worst parking is any day after 6 p.m.”

Though many Masa customers walk or ride bikes, Reynolds is glad that the city recently expanded the time limit on nearby parking meters from one hour to two.

Several blocks east, Jen Monsein, manager of The Park restaurant, said that some customers do walk down from the hills of Echo Park and Angeleno Heights. But most people drive to the restaurant at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Douglas Street, and they frequently complain about parking. The Park has two, on-site parking spaces during the day, and five at night by arrangement with a nearby business.

“It’s almost daily that we field complaints about the lack of parking,” Monsein said. The Park loves the Dodgers, but when they’re in full swing – “there is NO PARKING! We get a good amount of cancellations from people fed up with driving in circles looking for spaces,” she added.

On Alvarado Street, the parking crunch becomes acute during the morning and evening rush hours when “No Parking”restrictions are imposed. This restriction eliminates all the street parking on the block where Tierra Mía Café is located.

“People say they don’t stop here sometimes because they can’t find parking,” said cafe employee Ashley Marquez.

Marquez’ solution: “A parking structure would be helpful anywhere around here.”


Parking has become difficult for residents, especially for those who live near the restaurants and bars of Sunset Boulevard.

“On weekend nights it’s pretty bad, won’t clear up until 2 a.m.” Ramy Youssef, an Elsinore Street resident, said. “During the week it’s hard also. I’ve been hearing about regulating the street since I moved in two years ago.”

In fact, residents of Elsinore and nearby Mohawk Street earlier this year circulated a petition that would reserve parking only for permit holders during certain hours.

“The Permit Parking District for Elsinore and Mohawk has been approved, and residents on those blocks have submitted signatures of up to 80% support for the implementation of the permit district on their street,” said an email update from Council District 13. “The signatures are currently being verified, and soon thereafter signs and permits will be posted and distributed.”

While the Permit Parking District will provide some relief for residents, it will likely cause more parking headaches for visitors.

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  1. Well, if the city had a mandate that for every number of businesses/residents there had to be a certain number of parking spaces serviced via surface lots and multi story parking facilities then we wouldn’t have this problem, residents would be happy and businesses would thrive. Instead we have the usual inactivity from our local councilors and city hall.

    • The city already has “minimum parking requirements” on all new development. And it’s a big reason why most new apartments in LA are super expensive (and ugly/industrial scale.) All the older mixed use buildings built without garages/podium are much more charming — see the Chango building, or Jensen’s Rec Center. They don’t have huge curb cuts or dead spaces facing the street like newer buildings.

      Government imposed parking mandates on older, “grandfathered” buildings would just make it that much harder for small businesses to open up (land ain’t cheap in LA.) I suspect the endgame from that approach would just be more demolition of historic buildings.

      • Right now, parking is tough in the area so people don’t drive here. Build a structure, parking gets easier, more people drive here. That may mean more customers for merchants but won’t ease street parking in the neighborhood.

        Its the same reason widening the 405 didn’t ease traffic. After widening, more people drive on the 405, traffic speeds stay the same.

        If the merchants or commercial landlords want parking, they can form a BID and pay for it.

    • Are you trolling or do you not know about minimum parking requirements (and about how they really suck)?

  2. Many affordable housing advocates are actively pushing planners to adopt LOWER parking requirements, because parking is expensive.

    Many “smart” growth, high density advocates also push for LOWER parking requirements because lack of parking incentivizes people to not drive.

    I think both ideas work in theory, but are foolish given the reality of most LA neighborhoods.

    • Neighborhoods change… how about we let the free market decide how much (or little) private storage is needed?

      • Neighborhoods don’t change according to true free market principles, because there are reglations (most for good) limiting the type of change. Parking minimums are part of this regulatory ecosystem.

        There are several issues with letting “the market” decide. First, if you build apts with little to no parking, people with cars will still rent them but simply park their cars on the street. This will exacerbate existing parking issues and becomes a detriment to the community at large. At some point, lack of parking impacts productivity and mobility, since people will spend time vulturing for parking, thereby inducing more vmt and congestion. In business districts, lack of parking restricts the number of potential customers a business can service.

        If these low/no parking units were located in areas that had zero street parking for at least some minimum radius (maybe a mile), then it would be highly unlikely that people with cars would rent these places.

        The second issue, is because we’re dealing with buildings, mistakes are expensive which makes the liklihood of reversing them slimmer.

        • Sure, regulations that deal with safety, sanitation, productivity, etc. are necessary to promote the common welfare of a neighborhood.

          But the free market is perfectly capable of managing private storage of automobiles all on it’s own. Just look at any pre-war urban neighborhood around the world built out prior to parking mandates (plenty are doing well — even here in LA, some of the highest property values are in these traditional urban neighborhoods where parking is a bear.)

          The fact of the matter is urban neighborhoods with less parking are actually more financially productive. Why? Because you have more people, businesses and cultural activity happening on the same footprint of land (and more tax revenue per acre to better manage longterm community obligations like infrastructure, schools, police, fire, etc.)

          Parking is not a birthright, it’s an expensive amenity. In densely populated urban neighborhoods, there simply isn’t enough room for everyone to own and store a car. The more we try to fight that reality, the worse traffic and pollution get, and the higher rents will climb.

          • What exactly is the “free market”? I see a market driven by trends, speculation and cheap money. This being exacerbated by artificially low interest rates riding at near zero. How about we let interest rates float to actual levels and let the “real free market” which is determined by the real supply and demand dictate how we screw up the next neighborhood.

            Parking is a disaster because of historic bad planning! High density concepts in historical districts along major transportation corridors do not work when development is catering the wealthier clients. People who buy homes at $700,000 and up do not take the bus…so what’s the point?!

          • Your first paragraph I agree with wholeheartedly. Federal housing and monetary policy fuel a lot of the speculation we’re seeing here in LA (also, foreign speculators and Airbnb, but I digress.)

            I’m certainly not advocating for building a bunch of high rises in Echo Park. We still have plenty of room downtown for that! But I do think we should cut red tape in the zoning (and financing) to allow mom and pop developers to get their foot in the door and start building at the scale of our existing pre-war urban buildings we all know and love.

            Small footprint, 2-4 story mixed-use (or not) walkups; with no setback and no parking… that’s what affordable urban housing looks like (without taxpayer subsidy.) Unfortunately, we’ve zoned it out of existence.

  3. Pasadena, Weho, Glendale, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica all have public parking structures in similar sized business districts. It doesn’t seem like an unreasonable solution.

    • Couple problems with that approach:

      1) How do we pay for it? Local taxes are quite high as is. If we could tie local parking meter revenue to local improvements (and charge variable market rates on parking) that might help.

      2) LA has a poor history of designing garages that integrate into the streetscape. The ones in Pasadena are much better because they have ground floor retail (which generates money for the city, and creates less dead space on the street — AKA more foot traffic and local commerce.) But the ones we already have behind the Echo are just dead space. Perhaps we could try some lo-fi solutions like semi-permanent retail stalls on the periphery?

      3) You kinda need a 3-dimensional urban footprint (like Old Town Pasadena) for centralized municipal parking garages to really give you bang for your buck. But anywhere outside of the “downtown” area of Echo Park (where the city laready had parking — by Jensen’s Rec and the Echo) would be a challenge. Much of the existing built environment in the area is very linear in nature (less conducive to a “park once”, walking setup), and the city’s outdated zoning codes works against commercial development in a more conventional city pattern (i.e. on all streets, in all directions — instead of just the car-centric arterials.)

    • Exactly right.

  4. More free parking will not solve the problem. Echo Park should look into variable price parking similar to what Westwood recently adopted.

  5. How about if Angeles Temple open up their parking facility, for the neightborhood.

    • Hear, hear!

    • Seriously! I’ve been saying this for years. They only use the structure on Thursdays and Sundays — and even then, it’s hardly full! (Maybe 30-70% capacity, depending on time of year.) They are horrible neighbors to have and are so greedy. My perception of them might change if they did the neighborly thing and gave visitors a place to park so residents are feeling the pressure of the issue.

    • Then they would have to share and that is not in the good book.

  6. As far as cheap solutions, I like the angled parking pictured above. How about adding that to more of the side streets (Echo Park Ave. maybe? Might also need speed bumps there to calm traffic flow for people pulling into and out of spots.)

  7. Offer parking at Dodger Stadium with a free shuttle. And during baseball season, fans can come early and eat at Echo Park / Downtown restaurants – like the shuttles to Disney Hall.

  8. in other news the sky is blue

  9. I drive to Echo Park all the time and rarely have trouble parking as long as I’m willing to walk two blocks to my destination. If you’re looking for parking right out front then yeah, you’re gonna have a problem, it’s a city of 4 million people.

  10. Thank God every private garage is still being used as a junk collection point for all that plastic crap the 20thg century produced. The only thing there is a shortage of in Echo Park is free land to store your private property.

    • Our house was built in 1921 and has no driveway or garage. Our neighbor has a garage and a ramp,, however, for his old house. Doe she use them? Absolutely not! The garage is filled with junk. But, he will allow his friends and family to park either in the driveway (blocking the sidewalk) or in front of the driveway ramp. One time, my car was sticking one inch into his ramp, and he screamed at me for blocking access to his garage — which, I reminded him, he doesn’t use to store a car! And he’s a renter with the same landlord as me. He ‘s just being a jerk for the sake of being a jerk. Oh, how I wish his garage was ours! We need one!

  11. Its not about parking. Its about lack of reliable public transport. I vote for a rail from union station to weho on sunset.

  12. What a lovely street so clean nd nice .no dirt no bullshit.pka at night its the murder blocc

  13. Great, so some of the last unrestricted streets will get permits while everybody east of Alvarado still gets boned with street cleaning, two hour parking and of course no permits for residents. Gotta love how they’re granting permits to people that probably have driveways instead of folks on the busier streets. Wouldn’t want to hurt their ticket income of course.


  15. Quilt building more apartments! That’s why there is no parking available on some residential streets.

  16. Get creative with some local government types and figure out how to sprinkle a few low rise parking structures in the affected areas and that will take care of the situation. You’re welcome.

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