In an increasingly urbanized Orange County, scarce parking is a growing problem.
One of Voice of OC’s most popular stories this year looked at how local cities are dealing with a shortage of parking in residential neighborhoods.
With much of the apartment and multifamily housing stock countywide built before the 1970s, when households had fewer working adults, many of those complexes provide just one or two dedicated parking spots. The result is apartment residents tend to rely on street parking more than those living in single-family homes.
North and central OC cities, where the population is denser and the housing stock is older, are hit much harder by the parking issues than south Orange County, which developed much later.
Most cities have tried to solve the problem by issuing parking permits to residents, a move that helped some streets, but shifted the parking shortage to others. Other cities, like Fullerton, created a patchwork of apartment neighborhoods where overnight street parking is allowed, but the streets still are jammed.
In Anaheim, the city council will consider changes to its permit parking program in early 2018.
Here are some of Voice of OC’s stories on parking from the past year.
Opinions about permit parking are split among residents of Juno Avenue in Anaheim, a street 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.
Many homeowners complain of trash left behind by people who don’t live in their neighborhood but now park on their street.
“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,” Clint Breads told the an Anaheim City Council meeting.
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.
Homeowners and renters are divided over how parking on public streets should be managed.
An opinion published last April by former state Attorney General Kamala Harris concludes residential permit parking programs can’t discriminate against residents based on the type of dwelling they live in.
Ray Maggi, a board member of the Apartment Association of Orange County, believes many cities have regulations that favor homeowners and don’t protect the rights of apartment residents to their share of the public streets.
“They [city officials] have a political problem,” Maggi said. “They don’t want to tell the homeowners that it’s not their street, but public parking.”
A shortage of affordable housing has compounded the parking problem, with more adult millennials living with their parents and families doubling up into apartments.
A worker needs to make $25 an hour to afford a one-bedroom apartment in Orange County, according to the 2016 OC Community Indicators Report, but two-thirds of county jobs don’t pay that much.
The same report determined the county’s four largest job sectors – construction, tourism, business and professional and health services – don’t have annual salaries high enough to buy an entry-level home.
Fullerton has a 93-year-old ban on overnight parking on all public streets. Throughout the years the time frame has changed, but today it bans parking from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m.
Since 1979, the city has lifted the overnight street parking ban in a block-by-block approach in neighborhoods that are mostly on the south side of the city.
Over the last year, the issue has been discussed during nearly every public comment section of the regular City Council meetings as tenants have turned out to voice their concerns.
The issue has stoked race and class tensions.
“The homeowners are predominantly white, while they attack tenants who are predominately Hispanic,” said Emily Ward at a city council meeting. “Even more sadly, their attacks have played on racial stereotypes. Not tonight, but if you look at past meetings, this is absolutely true.”
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