Drivers from Westwood to Silver Lake have learned in recent months that they can be ticketed for parking in what’s called the driveway apron – that sloping portion of driveway between the sidewalk and street.  Today, the City Council is scheduled to consider a motion that would temporarily allow drivers to park in the driveway apron without fear of getting a ticket.  But there is a hitch: the vehicle must fit entirely within the apron and can’t encroach on the sidewalk, said Paul Michael Neuman, a spokesman for City Councilman  Paul Koretz, a cosponsor of the motion. “There are aprons that are large enough to park their entire car,” said Neuman.

The motion is being considered as the city looks for a way to deal with lawsuits claiming that apron parking violates provisions of the Americans With Disabilities Act.  The city has stepped up enforcement of laws prohibiting apron parking but there is confusion as to certain definitions, including the term “parkway” used in the city ordinance, according to the motion. Enforcement of the city’s no-apron parking rule would be suspended until those definitions are cleared up or a new ordinance is adopted.

But Neuman warns that drivers should play it safe by making sure their entire vehicle fits into the apron even if the law is suspended.  The issue remains far from settled as city lawyers and officials look at ways to comply with the ADA and perhaps allow for some types of apron parking.

What happens, for example, if your car does not block the sidewalk but juts out into the street?  That’s not clear, Neuman said. “It strikes me as being an iffy proposition,” he said.

Here’s a summary of the issue Koretz’ office published in an August newsletter:

Residents all over the City are learning what too many in Westwood and all over the Fifth Council District already know – that the City needs a new policy on “apron parking.”

The apron is the portion of the driveway between the sidewalk and the street.In many parts of Los Angeles, particularly older multifamily neighborhoods, the sidewalks are fairly close to the buildings and residents have parked for many years on the aprons of their driveways between the sidewalk and the street. In years past, regulations against apron parking largely have not been enforced.

Unfortunately, that changed this year.Law suits were filed against the City claiming, among other things, that apron parking interfered with the mobility of disabled residents. Partially in response to this litigation, the City Attorney’s Office instructed the Department of Transportation to enforce existing prohibitions on apron parking. This abrupt elimination of many parking spaces all over Los Angeles is causing great hardship in many neighborhoods.

Councilmember Koretz has a long history of support for the rights of the disabled and differently-abled and continues to strongly advocate for justice for the victims of disability discrimination.Nonetheless, Councilmember Koretz believes that the City can develop an apron parking system which fully protects the rights of the disabled and addresses the legitimate parking needs of neighborhood residents (some of whom are in fact disabled).

One issue is whether Sacramento must pass legislation before the City can act to meet the needs of all of its residents. The California Vehicle Code is silent on the issue of apron parking.Some have interpreted this silence as a prohibition on the development of a Los Angeles City apron parking altogether unless and until Sacramento revises the Vehicle Code to expressly provide for such a program.
The Councilmember therefore authored a proposal, which was adopted by the full City Council, to direct the Department of Transportation and the City Attorney to report on a dual strategy regarding apron parking – both the immediate development of an apron parking plan and also the development of a Sacramento legislative strategy. Again, either strategy should and in fact must fully protect the rights of the disabled. Councilmember Koretz has already begun seeking legislators willing to explore possibly writing and carrying any appropriate legislation, and has also urged the Department of Transportation and City Attorney’s Office to begin the necessary work leading to a report.


*Update: City Council adopted the motion to suspend enforcement of  parking in driveway apron.

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