New problem downtown: lack of parking

DOWNEY − Business owner Sherry Watson  is proud to say she’s worked in Downey for nearly 36 years. But that pride began to sour last year when Watson noticed the customers visiting her beauty salon and supply store had nowhere to park.

“When Porto’s [Bakery] moved in, things changed completely. We lost business because they’re taking all our parking,” said Watson, owner of Dazzling Beauty Supply and Salon, located at 11116 Downey Ave. “People are parking in front of our businesses for five and six hours...we’re losing so much money because there’s no parking.”

And Watson isn’t the only business owner in Downtown Downey voicing an opinion.

In response to a petition from business owners requesting an increase in car turnover, the city council last Tuesday agreed to install two 20-minute parking spaces and a loading and unloading zone near Downey Avenue and Second Street.

The city received the petition last October from half a dozen business owners on the east side of Downey Avenue between Firestone Boulevard and Second Street requesting the existing two-hour parking spaces be reduced to just 20 minutes.

“Parking turnover -- that was the whole incentive for submitting the petition in the first place. Businesses have been impacted and customers don’t have ample parking,” said Ed Norris, Downey’s assistant director of public works. “And the condition was probably exacerbated when 16 spaces were removed from the parking lot where The View is being constructed.”

According to a city staff report, on-street parking conditions on Downey Avenue have taken a real hit since construction began on The View, a multi-family residential apartment complex on Second Street.

With the average parking duration at 40 minutes per vehicle, businesses like One Day Cleaners, The Locker Room of Downey, and Avenue Press Printing Co. were hoping city officials would install at least three, 30-minute green zones.

While city staff did recommend four 30-minute spaces, the council chose to compromise by adding two 20-minute spots mid-block on Downey Avenue between Firestone Boulevard and Second Street and a yellow loading zone on the southeast corner of Second Street and Downey Avenue.

City officials believe the changes will suffice for now, but with a surge of new housing and entertainment venues moving into the downtown area, city staff and business owners alike are pushing for a comprehensive parking study to assess the availability of parking around the downtown district.

Everything from reconfiguring parking lots to adopting additional on-street parking regulations is on the table, Norris said.

Nonetheless, Watson believes more has to be done now or else some businesses in the downtown district will have to close.

“I’m glad for the two spaces -- we needed that change, but the small businesses on Downey Avenue between Firestone and Second Street are in a bad situation,” she said. “Parking is disastrous here. People don’t stop anymore and the businesses are really suffering.”



Published: April 17, 2014 - Volume 13 - Issue 01