Anaheim Neighborhoods Have Become Parking Battlegrounds

Thy Vo/Voice of OC

An ally behind Juno Avenue in Southwest Anaheim, where apartment dwellers illegally park because of lack of parking in the neighborhood.

Print More

When Clint Breads walks out the front door of his Anaheim home each morning, he’s more often than not confronted with discarded bottles, soda cans, plastic bags, condoms and even syringes strewn along the sidewalk.

The garbage, he says, comes from people who might live blocks away but park their vehicles in front of his home because they can’t find parking in their own neighborhood.

“Right now we have a 25 to 30-foot party van, windows blacked out, satellite dishes on top, it hasn’t moved in a week. A truck with a trailer behind it is full of trash,” Breads said at an Anaheim City Council study session last week.

The study session is part of an effort by council members to find a solution to parking battlegrounds that have popped up all over Anaheim, as the city over the past decade has, without much forethought or discussion, approved scores of requests by homeowners to turn neighborhood streets into permit-only parking.   

A Daily Fight

Homeowners, especially in areas where single-family homes brush up against dense apartment housing, say it’s the only way they can keep apartment dwellers from taking up all the curb space in front of their property.

However, while permit parking may alleviate problems for homeowners, it exacerbates an already difficult situation for apartment renters who have limited parking to begin with, and complain about walking long distances every day to get to their cars, especially when returning from work late at night. In some neighborhoods nearly all the streets are now permit-only parking, which leaves renters with few options.

That’s the case for the residents of Juno Avenue, a street in southwest Anaheim shared by single-family homes on one side and single-story apartments on the other. At any given time of day, cars are parked bumper-to-bumper against the curb, including vehicles owned by people from apartment communities nearly a half mile away.

Despite red lanes meant to ensure fire trucks can access the neighborhood, desperate apartment residents now park on both sides of the alleys, blocking garages, irritating neighbors and requiring drivers to carefully shimmy their vehicles to avoid hitting other cars.

It’s gotten to the point where parking permits on are scalped like tickets to big events. Fernando Viera, a homeowner who has lived on Juno for five years, said his family buys guest parking permits from neighbors on permitted streets so they can host family during Christmas and for special events.

“But mostly we try not to have anything here,” Viera said.

The city recently approved a petition by homeowners to make the curb on one side of Juno permit-only, which will make the parking even more scarce.

Robert Rizzie, the owner of two triplexes on Juno, sees the council’s actions as fueling inequality and resentment among neighbors.

“We have 66 residents on Juno, only 17 of them are in houses,” Rizzie said. “The city is going to give 50 percent of the parking to 25 percent of the residents, [those] who have the most parking.”

Rizzie’s son, Geoff Rizzie, has lived in an apartment on Juno for 13 years. On a recent Monday just after 5 p.m., he backed out of his garage in the crowded alley to give a reporter a brief tour of the surrounding neighborhood. Five minutes later, he returned to find his garage blocked by a parked car.

“There’s been days when we’re late for work because we can’t get out of our garage,” said Geoff Rizzie.

Currently there are 38 permit parking districts in Anaheim that prohibit parking 24 hours a day. Five districts allow parking any time except from midnight to 6 a.m. Code enforcement issued 4,341 parking tickets in 2016, according to city staff.

Part of the problem is that much of the city’s housing stock was built in the 1950’s, when families had fewer cars and the city required less parking per unit, according to Public Works Director Rudy Emami. Some of the apartments on Juno have just one dedicated parking spot, while in nearby apartments there might be families doubling up in a single unit to save money.

The situation could also be worsened by the state’s density bonus law, which allows housing developers to include less parking in their project if they agree to add a certain number of affordable housing units.

City spokesman Mike Lyster said the city has tried in recent years to canvas entire neighborhoods or hold neighborhood meetings, but found most ended in a “stand-off” between two sides with very strong opinions.

“[Staff have] had conversations in the past where they bring everybody together and try to discuss it, but they find that those tend not to be all that productive,” Lyster said.

A ‘Lopsided System’

Last week, at the council’s regular meeting following the study session, council members acknowledged the problem and floated the possibility of a moratorium on new permit requests, but didn’t take any action.

“What I worry about is folks walking eight, nine, ten blocks,” said Councilman Jose Moreno. “To resolve a parking situation for a property owner, we end up making folks who work late into the night walk several blocks.”

Councilman James Vanderbilt said by adding permit districts, the city doesn’t create any new parking but makes it harder for some people and easier for others.

“The city can’t create more parking spaces on its streets, but it can lower the supply by creating these restrictions,” said Vanderbilt. “We seem to have this lopsided system that has only amplified as time goes on.”

Emami said that apartment and property owners will need to be part of the solution. “We need help from apartment owners to require more on-site [parking], or not to overcrowd the apartments with drivers,” he said.

Councilman Steve Faessel said the problem would not be solved without pressure from the city on apartment complexes that don’t provide adequate parking.

“I believe some of these apartment owners are happy with the status quo and unless the city is able to use additional pressure, the status quo will remain,” Faessel said.

Robert Rizzie, the landlord, believes permit parking should be done away with altogether, although he is open to other solutions that would allow apartment residents to share space in the neighborhood without overcrowding streets. And, he said, homeowners should also do their part by using their garages and driveways.

“We’re not asking for special treatment, we just want it to be fair,” said Rizzie.

Contact Thy Vo at tvo@voiceofoc.org or follow her on Twitter @thyanhvo.

  • RITCHIE VALENS

    I have arrived, but late. Go to N. Tustin area. Drive to East side of Anaheim, drive to Irvine, drive to a nice suburb where mostly Gringos and Asians live and See if you have any issues with finding parking in a residential area. Never. You see its very expensive to live there.
    If in Santa Ana a household needs to earn $160,000.00 a year to pay 3,000 to 4,000 a month on their 600,000.00 price tag home. And that is in Santa Ana, yup my ghetto. Banks gave it to the taxpayer real good when they handed out multiple loans to a one single family home where you had 2 to 3 families living in there. How else are they going to pay the rent. Then the house market crashed and the bank got their money back from their daddy el presidente and you got a check for 1,000 and you lost your home. Its sad, the low income families are approved for housing while, I making 40,000 a year. Have to rent a room. That is sad but the reality. I don’t qualify for housing, I make to much. I can’t afford a DAM@! APARTMENT! its too expensive. What’s the point of all this. Then you have that MICHELLE MARTINEZ SPITTING, “OH WE NEED TO MAKE AFFORDABLE HOUSING MORE AFFORDABLE” REALLY. ARE YOU THAT ESTUPID. We are over populated in Santa Ana and yes living like rats. Bumper to bumper and every street. I have to get lyft just to take me to my friends house, because I can’t find #$%^& of parking on the street. It is a real sick virus that is spreading and will get even worse in ten years. Pero ahi tienes your santa ana city council they will let this city rot! If I make it to retirement age. Im lone gone.

  • I recall a street in Stanton where city officials had trees planted in the street to prevent over saturated apartment complexes from street parking (Chapman Ave E of Beach). I believe it all goes back to overpriced housing. I have seen people in Garden Grove buy homes they cannot possibly afford, then the husband, wife & 2 or 3 children live in the master bedroom while they rent rooms out to total strangers to make ends meet, yes, even converting a garage into living quarters. then the neighbors will complain about parking then comes code enforcement. Solution? Ban Air B&B. lol.

  • Cynthia Ward

    This appears to be numerous problems all lumped under the category of “parking.”

    A) Homeowners are not bugged about people parking in front of their homes so much as they are bugged about the bags (if lucky) of discards dropped from the cars parked in front of their homes. I share that frustration, we take a long handled grabber and our now 15 cent grocery bags when we walk our dogs in the evenings, and we bring those bags back FULL of what others drop from their cars. I often have to empty the bag at Pearson Park as the halfway point of our perambulatory adventures, and then refill it again on the way home. Looking on the bright side, I have yet to have one of the paid-for grocery bags bust open and dump unspeakable horror on my shoes. So step one in being welcome in adjacent neighborhoods is DON’T DUMP YOUR GARBAGE IN THE GUTTER! For some bizarre reason someone has found the street right in front of the old Karcher estate property to be “lover’s lane” and we find a combo of fast food, alcohol bottles and/or pot shop containers, panties and condoms, all dropped together. Car date. Cheap, classless car date.

    My personal favorite is when the Police have been out to deal with someone and they remove their disposable gloves and “dispose” of them in the gutter. Yeah, message sent, APD, Anaheim is nothing but a giant trash can, thanks guys. So SOME of this is understandably not about parking so much as the behavior of those parking, and it IS legitimately infuriating! That’s not counting the folks who change their oil on the street, or sit in their cars ad get loaded, radio blasting outside one’s bedroom window, and of course the quasi-homeless parking motor homes out front to live in for weeks until moving to the next location. Compassion is one thing, seeing around those suckers to get out of one’s driveway is something else.

    B) Apartment complexes are often already under parked, and then some landlords CHARGE to use carports or garages, pushing tenants out of the few spaces that might be available. Is it an infringement of property rights to forbid landlords from charging for parking, if their “property right” negatively impacts the surrounding neighborhood? That’s a real question, I am not sure how I feel about it….anyone?

    C) From what magical source of real estate are landlords to conjure up more parking spaces? The 1950s era complexes were built for one car per family, and built out to the maximum limits. It’s not like there is a lot of wasted empty space to be able to adapt for parking.

    D) Homeowners who have a garage (almost always at least 2 cars wide) AND a driveway with another car’s length, are upset about on street parking. How many are using the off street parking they possess? Guilty myself, my turn-of-the-last-century “carriage house” has had its sliding barn doors nailed shut for so long I can guarantee the last vehicle sheltered within its structurally questionable walls ran on leaded gasoline, at least. And even if the doors operated again, we will not discuss the 13 metric tons of “treasures” I have packed in there. Not judging, but asking, are we efficiently using the space we possess on ALL sides of the street before complaining about those who have no other choice?

    E) Saving the BIGGEST cause for last….The ENTIRE MESS is a direct result of Anaheim’s determined CHOICE to become the low wage capital of Orange County, encouraging (to the point of subsidizing) the tourism industry we KNOW does not pay enough for even a basic studio apartment, while at the same time failing to offer any encouragement for better paying employers to come let our workforce pull itself out of poverty and into an apartment they don’t have to share with another family. For too long we have had elected leaders with tunnel vision to see only the campaign donations of the economic engine running on human fuel, while using the power of government to punish the tourism supporting human fuel for the behavior they are forced into for survival.

    Oh you need to have yard sales to make ends meet? Let’s outlaw/severely restrict them.

    Doubling up in housing to pay the rent? Let’s make life miserable for you trying to park the beater car you barely keep running, while knowing our workforce covers odd hours that make it unsafe to walk blocks in the middle of the night…that is AFTER extracting regressive gas taxes on those low mileage old beater-mobiles, and then using the gas taxes taken disproportionately from the poor to fund the projects that benefit the same corporate overlords who underpay their workforce to begin with. City of Kindness? There are definitely policies we need to look long and hard at.

    We keep putting band aids on the open wounds, instead of tracing the injury to the cause that keeps reopening the stitches. Monumental screw up number one was the 1990s era environmental docs for the massive Resort expansion, in which Brandman and Associates (yep, that company) claimed the master plan for decades of Resort increases would have NO impact to housing, at it would draw from the current resident base of people already here. NO attention was paid to the idea that the jobs increasing exponentially from the Resort expansion would be low wage positions unable to keep pace with housing COSTS or availability. Yet despite decades of proving the old Specific Plan docs to be inaccurate (at best) we appear to be stuck with the development plans for another 20 years at least, unless those docs are subject to some form of challenge for being the worthless sheets of paper they are. (Anyone?) Obviously the expansion of the Resort has had impacts NOT anticipated by the old 1990s era Specific Plans, why are we tolerating this? Worse, why do we let them continue to use these outdated plans for even MORE future growth with God knows what impacts to come when we are already at maximum capacity?!

    Ordinarily when there is such a huge demand for housing in an area, this acts as inducement for a developer to knock down the old single-story. inefficient complexes and put up bright shiny new rental units with underground parking, but that model assumes a consumer base that can AFFORD a bright, shiny new complex, and our workforce cannot afford the outdated and under-parked units we have now. I don’t pretend to know what the answer is, but I know the equation includes a whole lot more than just parked cars.

  • buzzookaman

    Enforce zoning laws is paramount, quit building dense housing and get banks to quit giving multiple families a loan on a single family homes because police won’t even go into some of these neighborhoods at night.

  • Becks Torres

    Why isn’t the police citing these vehicles? I understand the homeowners frustration.

    • LFOldTimer

      Cops taking orders from the Mayor and the Council.

      More selective enforcement of the law in honor of political correctness.

      Fastest growing occupation in Anaheim: (1) Food cart vendor; (2) Community Organizer for the Homeless.

      The code enforcement officers in Anaheim must feel like Maytag repairmen.

      • Becks Torres

        Um, I like the mayor, but laws need to be enforced all around. Yeah, I bet code enforcement is always busy. Political correctness has gone haywire. I long for the Anaheim I used to know…..

        • LFOldTimer

          You must be 93 years old.

          • Becks Torres

            Ha! No, only in my 40’s. The 1970’s and 1980’s were the best. 🙂

          • LFOldTimer

            There is life outside of Anaheim.

            Sometimes you have to step over the casualties to save yourself.

          • Becks Torres

            Of course, there is. This is the largest city in O.C. so I expect there to be problems.

          • LFOldTimer

            Problems? That’s an understatement. It’s a war zone. I heard on the radio tonight that the cops found hand grenades in Anaheim and there was a building ablaze a short distance away. I guess if you’re a war correspondent or writing a dissertation on urban warfare it would be a great place to live. But if sirens and police helicopters and cars blasting rap music and the sound of live gunfire annoy you, it’s probably a place you would want to avoid. Maybe living on the perimeter of Disneyland would be safe tho since it would have added police protection to maintain the ‘Happiest Place on Earth’ facade.

      • Cynthia Ward

        If you all have any ideas for how to regain the lost revenues gifted to political insiders by the prior Council majority, so we can hire officers to enforce parking violations, (among numerous problems we need law enforcement to look at) many of us in Anaheim are all ears. It’s funny that comments here compare Anaheim to Santa Ana, because when you deduct from our General Fund the subsidies shoveled to the same industries creating many of these blighting conditions, Anaheim doesn’t have much more to spend than Santa Ana, and we have 20 million visitors a year to keep up with. Disney pays for the officers ON PROPERTY but visitors not on Disney property are on our shoulders, especially now that those visitors are spilling into the neighborhoods. And the price Disney pays for their officers does not appear (in a surface level review) to include the costs of pensions, benefits, etc. So taxpayers look like we are picking up part of the tab for cops we don’t get to use. Welcome to Anaheim. Parking in alleys is one of our lesser problems.

        • LFOldTimer

          Disney must pay an ungodly amount in business taxes, sales taxes and property taxes to the City of Anaheim. I have no idea how it compares to the subsidies provided to Disney and other related industries. I don’t know the dollar amount of reserves in Anaheim’s budget. But it must be significant and far more than what Santa Ana has in reserves.

          You must know that Disney has terminated citizen employees and replaced them with lower paid H1b foreigners. But you didn’t mention that in your comments. Naturally, this drives the standard wage down and hurts all workers. Trump is working to reduce the number H1b foreign workers so citizens have more opportunities for employment.

          And illegal foreigners steal jobs from citizens driving down the standard wage. The labor laws are not being enforced. Don’t you think that’s contributing to overcrowding and rising poverty (and all the problems that go along with it) in Anaheim?

          Until the density problem in Anaheim is addressed by enforcing labor laws and giving citizens priority for employment 1000 new cops in Anaheim wouldn’t solve a thing. It would just create another police state.

    • David Zenger

      Parking on a public street isn’t illegal. No law to enforce – unless you have an overnight parking ban or permit only parking.

      • Becks Torres

        My comment was regarding those that are parking in alleys and blocking garages.

  • ryan.

    This isn’t a parking problem, it’s a density problem. Too many people living under a single roof. As long as 8 people are living in a 3 bedroom house this will always be a problem. Not sure what Anaheim’s legal minimum is but in Santa Ana the first person needs 60 sq ft, everyone after needs 50. Go drive around a neighborhood in Santa Ana about 8PM, it’s bumper to bumper.

    • LFOldTimer

      Finally, somebody speaking in the language of common sense. A language that is becoming obsolete and one that few people understand anymore.

      Thank you.

      Oh, and 8 is a conservative estimate.

  • Paul Lucas

    Huge problem everywhere in so cal. When a neighborhood goes to permits it spills over to the next closest neighborhood as a result. Need more mass transit and mandate parking minimums in apartment complexes.

    • LFOldTimer

      We need to stop importing poverty.

  • Dennis

    One of the reasons I moved. Also the street I lived on had plenty of crime, including, but not limited to, a meth lab that burnt down, people crapping in the front yard, parking their cars in my front yard – and a little boy was stabbed to death directly across the street an one door over.

    I’ve moved to another city and couldn’t be happier. Now, to move out of CA.

  • David Zenger

    There is no solution, only palliatives. And as someone who got sick of people coming and going all night long, car alarms going off at all hours, and trash in my front yard I was very pleased to get permit parking on our street. That was in 2012 and our laity of life increased dramatically.

    • LFOldTimer

      “Now if only we could get the cop helicopter pilots to quit practicing their circling 150 ft about our street…”

      Perhaps if Anaheim declares itself a ‘sanctuary city’ the police helicopters will go away.

  • LFOldTimer

    Too many people living in garages or renting them out. No place to park their cars in multi-family residences but on the streets.

    But naturally this article fails to report the obvious.