Economic and Planning Systems, a contracted economic research firm, last week released preliminary results of their Reseda Microeconomic Study evaluating the impact of public parking lots on nearby businesses. Preliminary results showed that either partial or full removal of City-owned parking lots would have a negative economic impact on area businesses. I commissioned the study in 2019 in order to provide support for local businesses and so that I could require data-driven mitigation measures in the event that development was proposed for any one of these lots, as all City properties are being scoured as potential locations for affordable housing projects.
In 2019, The Mayor’s Office and City Administrative Office identified four parking lots in Reseda that meet basic standards for potential redevelopment opportunities, including low income housing or permanent supportive housing developments. Understanding that the four identified lots are critical infrastructure to many Third District small businesses, I introduced a motion to fund the study to learn exactly how the lots are utilized by businesses and how partial or full removal of the parking lots would impact area businesses.
The City Administrative Office contracted with Economic and Planning Systems, an economic research firm, and Nelson/Nygaard, a transportation planning firm to conduct the study. While some initial research was conducted in 2019 and early 2020, much of the work was delayed during the COVID-19 pandemic to avoid skewed results. Research resumed in the fall of 2022.
The study examined four City-owned parking lots: two adjacent lots on Baird Street north of Sherman Way, one lot on Baird Street south of Sherman Way, and one lot on Canby Avenue south of Sherman Way (see Image 1). It also looked at other parking options in the area, including on-street parking and privately-owned lots.
The consultant team divided the studied area into three separate zones, as depicted in Image 2 and studied how either partial or full removal of the City-owned lots would impact nearby businesses.
The study consisted of two parts: data collection and stakeholder engagement. During data collection, the hired consultants observed parking usage in City-owned lots as well as street parking. They also evaluated potential parking mitigation options that could alleviate any negative impact on businesses.
Economic and Planning Systems released the results during a virtual town hall on Wednesday, March 15, where business owners and residents were invited to provide feedback. Prior to the event, my staff went door-to-door to invite nearby businesses to attend the meeting and offer their input. Under my direction, staff delivered fliers to more than 200 businesses in the vicinity of the four parking lots.
According to the Economic and Planning Systems preliminary results, the current parking supply in all three zones is sufficient; however, off-street parking options, including the City-owned lots, are over capacity during peak utilization hours. However, the study showed that a scenario where 50 percent of City-owned parking was eliminated would create a parking deficit during peak hours in Zones A and B. Meanwhile, elimination of 100 percent of City-owned parking would create parking deficits in all three zones, with Zones A and B being hardest hit, having parking deficits throughout nearly the entire day.
For businesses, a parking deficit could translate into a loss of customers. The study’s preliminary results found that a 50 percent parking reduction in City-owned lots would create a two to four percent loss for businesses in Zones A and B, while a 100 percent parking reduction in City-owned lots could mean a 2 percent loss for businesses in Zone C, a 37 percent loss for businesses in Zone A, and a 38 percent loss for businesses in Zone B. Such a significant impact would be insurmountable for many small businesses.
While Economic and Planning Systems also found that utilizing parking mitigation efforts could help reduce the negative impact to businesses; even taking advantage of mitigation efforts such as shared parking agreements and increased parking enforcement techniques would not completely alleviate the impact on businesses.
Economic and Planning Systems will be reviewing feedback from the virtual townhall and incorporating feedback into their final report. I expect the final report is to be completed by early summer 2023. I will make sure the final report will be available to the public and I will welcome additional feedback from the community as well.
Although Mayor Bass is taking inventory of City-owned properties to explore for development opportunities; it is important to remember that there are currently no proposed development plans for any of the City-owned parking lots in Reseda. I will use the results of the study, along with additional community feedback, to advocate for the needs of small business owners and support mitigation efforts should there be any proposed plans in the future. I will continue to oppose any potential project that would have a negative impact on Reseda businesses.
If you weren’t able to make it to the town hall, you can view Economic & Planning Systems’ presentation and discussion here. You can also download their slideshow here.
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