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No More Free Parking at NoHo Commons

The new pay-to-park rates go in effect July 15, which is too late to save me from the $232 it cost to get my car back after it was towed.

Parking has always been free at the mixed-use NoHo Commons development at 5300 Lankershim Blvd. that features , multiple food and drink options, a Wells Fargo bank, and the , but starting July 15 it will cost $1.50 for 15 minutes of parking at a $15-per-day maximum. Although it is not stated on the sign, I would assume validation will be offered at the Commons' businesses based on those otherwise high rates.

About two months ago, I parked in the lot in a 1-hour parking space with the intention of running a few quick errands and paying a visit to Kenzie Alexander and Shannon Currie-Holmes, the two women that run Cella Gallery. I have , and the visit ended up lasting more than an hour as we caught up and talked about some of the things happening around NoHo.

On my way back to my car I remembered that I had parked in the 1-hour space and thought I might have a ticket or something. As it turned out, I did not have a ticket — my car had been towed.

Two hours later I found myself standing at the counter of a dingy impound lot on Vermont Avenue, waiting to pay $232 to get my car back. Lo and behold, who walks up behind me to get in line but Radomir Luza, who for this site. He too had been towed from the lot for parking too long in the 1-hour spaces. Radomir is also a member of the Midtown NoHo Neighborhood Council, so like me, he should have known better. But alas, there we were.

The moment I saw Radomir I realized what a nice little sum of money this tow company and the Commons was making off people's stupidity. But how wise was this as a long-term business policy? It didn't exactly make me want to go back there. Did the punishment fit the crime? How many people had stopped in at Coffee Bean or Panera Bread, ran into an old friend, accidentally parked too long and suddenly found themselves on Vermont Avenue shelling out $232 to get their cars back? That's pretty close to what happened to me. My conversation with Kenzie and Shannon got very interesting and engrossing as we talked about some of the cool things they had been up to and I just plain forgot about the parking.

However, now that I see they are converting to a pay lot, I feel partially responsible. I assume with the new policy the 1-hour-parking will disappear, along with the need to tow. I guess it's happening in part because of thoughtless jerks like me who took advantage of something that was already free.

Mike Szymanski July 08, 2012 at 05:26 PM
Perhaps this place will learn from the lessons of the Hollywood-Highland complex and the Arclight Hollywood parking...both were overpriced at first, and the lack of parking caused businesses to be affected, and residential areas to be overrun by parking. Then, the prices came down to reasonable rates (like at the Grove, and at Studio City's Parking garage), and people USED the place and didn't rush around to shop....Don't the businesses realize that people avoid places like Universal City Walk, Westwood, Downtown to shop BECAUSE parking is too expensive? Follow Studio City's lead....
David Rivers July 08, 2012 at 06:01 PM
I bet what happened were too many people were using it for the Laemmle theater and surrounding businesses that were not tied to the NoHo Commons. Apparently, for the Laemmle's, we're supposed to use the Art Institutes parking lot, which is $2 with validation (2.5 hours...or is it 3.5? I can't remember). Those two parking lots need to partner and make their prices the same.
Anthony Pardines July 08, 2012 at 08:25 PM
Craig- don't let the towing company off the hook. If you look at the rates you paid for getting towed, the majority cost goes to the tow company... It's in THEIR "best interest" to tow you and make a hefty profit. Whenever my car got towed, some valuables like camera equipment and even car parts (!) like batteries and jacks 'disappeared.' And of course, the tow company "didn't see nothing." I'd ask the community about their experiences with being towed in situations like yours.
Zach Behrens July 08, 2012 at 09:15 PM
Craig, were you in violation for more than one hour? As far as I can remember, I believe a tow company can only tow a car from in violation of a private lot rule after being in violation for one hour or more. So if you were 30 minutes late, it would be illegal to tow you. Not clear if I'm remember this correctly or if it has changed over the years, but I remember hearing something about this from the City Attorney's office at a Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council meeting.
Craig Clough (Editor) July 09, 2012 at 12:23 AM
It was about 90 minutes in total that I was parked there. The impound lot would not accept credit cards, only cash, and the fee they charged was way above what the law in Los Angeles allows, according to some research I have done. And yes, my research indicated you must be parked in violation for over an hour. I knew I had been taken full advantage of, but didn't feel right investigating or reporting on the shady tow company because I was too personally affected by the situation. But that didn't stop this LA Times reporter in a similar situation - http://articles.latimes.com/2007/sep/22/local/me-banks22
Cricket Yee July 09, 2012 at 01:40 AM
Who decided to make this a pay lot? I used to drop by Coffee Bean all the time to pick up a coffee-- now it's not worth the hassle. Free parking is good for business-- especially an area like NoHo, where the none of the local businesses have adequate parking.
Marcus July 09, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Every one can go ahead and stop going over the arts district now, let that area die. It's going to become a "too big to fail" thorn in this city. Give it two years before it's all nasty and congested like Hollywood or Venice. Flocks of people with nothing better to do than walk around looking at each other.
Nino July 09, 2012 at 02:43 PM
So if I go to the coffee bean or Panera? I cant park there, I generally just pick up to go.What a shame. That will kill those little stores.
irma glutz July 09, 2012 at 03:51 PM
The NEED for GREED.. appals me... So you made a subtle over in length parking stop Craig.... These CROOKS need to be shut down and go have their bodies towed. Similar thing happened to me in Toluca Lake when I was chairing a meeting for our Neighborhood Council at D'Cache.. the miserable dentist next door had a vendetta toward the restaurant and had several cars towed that night.. I was there less than 2 hours conducting a volunteer based meeting... Same scenario, 2 hours to get my car back plus $190 for the tow charges, and they wouldn't take a check.. (fear of canceling the check I suppose). Those business folks who hired the tow service are a bunch of greedy jerks... Look at the business model in Burbank Media District. people shop there because the parking is FREE all the time.. NOHO has had such a hard time getting off the ground, this could be the last straw before heading back to the run down old area it was before redevelopment and the BID. Who is minding the store? is the the banks that own the huge defunct and bankrupt million $$ apartment building above Roger Dunn? What a shame that folks will now choose to bring their business elsewhere... I certainly will, and I had just started enjoying the new Laemmle theaters.. I'm heading back to Burbank... sorry merchants.. FIRE THE TOWING COMPANY .. and lower the prices... or you will tearing cobwebs out of your parking stalls. I am constantly amazed at the stupidity and greed of some of these property owners..
J. Ryan July 09, 2012 at 04:29 PM
I think most of the commentators here would be surprised that more and more modern urban theory considers free parking a BAD idea and you'll only see it disappearing over time. (One example: http://www.amazon.com/High-Cost-Parking-Donald-Shoup/dp/1884829988) In this circumstance, I'm a bit ambivalent, considering the money is just being pocketed back to the owners of the Commons, not the community.
David Rivers July 09, 2012 at 05:40 PM
I agree with J. We're probably in the minority here, but it's really going to require a paradigm shift for us Valley folk to start thinking about being more pedestrian and having less dependence on cars. You have to remember that NoHo is the terminus for both the redline subway and the orange line. This area specifically is meant to be a transit/pedestrian-oriented area, not a typical suburban (did I hear Burbank) shopping area. This area will survive despite many people's parking frustrations. The intent is to make people (including myself) think twice about driving and choose to walk/bike/roller blade/skate board here. This will also help make the area greener, with less congestion on the streets. I know it will be hard for a lot of you to accept. Culture shift is not easy.
LABornAndRaised July 09, 2012 at 11:45 PM
Hmm...that's an interesting link J. Ryan posted. The part I find interesting about that book are that neighborhoods that implement pay parking actually show an increase in business. While I try to walk to the NoHo Commons as much as possible, it's about a mile walking and in this summer heat, it's going to be brutal. I may have to buy a bike.
Marcus July 11, 2012 at 02:30 PM
That book is non sense man, it's just theoretical pseudo science. You're on the right path in understanding that there is a racket going on here.
J. Ryan July 11, 2012 at 03:53 PM
If you'd actually read it, I think you'd be surprised. The concepts discussed are based on case-studies in the LA region and the arguments are rational. To accept it though, requires an effort to break through the dogma of a car-centered culture. Unfortunately, most people can't and the conversation stops at OMG, HOW DARE THEY MAKE ME PAY TO PARK! thing. Needless to say, I doubt planning theory has anything to do with this change.
Marcus July 11, 2012 at 04:01 PM
To accept something doesn't make it true, I understand the concept of the book very well, but it remains a theory.
J. Ryan July 11, 2012 at 05:23 PM
Not everything in it is theory. The numbers speak for themselves. The supply-and-demand concepts may be theory, sure. But as I'm seeing first-hand, the theories are taking root in the planning and city government realm, so it won't be long before the theories are applied in the real world. Rest assured though, I'm sure North Hollywood won't be at the forefront of this movement: like some of the commentators above alluded to, it has a long way to go (and enough space) before it reaches a demand requiring these measures.
El Portal Theatre July 12, 2012 at 06:14 PM
NoHo Commons has been towing our audiences at El Portal for 2 years now. Even though tons of our patrons go to Daphne's, Panda, Panera, etc when they are here. The only FAIR thing for everybody is to charge for parking, like everywhere else in Los Angeles. That way everybody is free to support any business in the neighborhood they choose without worrying that it's the "wrong" one! By the way - my understanding is that the tow company splits the fee with the NoHo Commons management - the same people who support the business you were visiting. So you've been paying them already!
Marcus July 12, 2012 at 06:18 PM
How about since they charge for parking I and anyone I know will boycott the entire area...
morris July 12, 2012 at 06:38 PM
Trying to find a spot in there has become ridiculous... I'm glad they're making it a pay lot (especially with the new gym). I bet too many people are parking there and going to other businesses, not just the Noho Commons ones. (That said, on my most recent visit, I made the same mistake of parking in a 1 hr. spot -- once I finally found one -- without realizing that's what it was. I was back well before an hour had passed, so no tow here; though my rear wheel was ominously marked with 4 big chalk stripes. They should at least mark those restrictions more clearly.)
Marcus July 12, 2012 at 06:42 PM
Going to start a boycott the commons campaign, If they want to be greedy, they can easily go.
morris July 12, 2012 at 06:53 PM
Like it says above, I imagine (hope) that you will be able to get your ticket validated if you actually visit one of the Noho Commons stores. The idea is too keep people from parking there and going to the theatres, Metro, etc.
morris July 12, 2012 at 06:55 PM
They're being greedy by making sure that only their customers (with validated tickets) park in those spots, and that others aren't taking them all up?
J. Ryan July 12, 2012 at 07:10 PM
Meh. I'll just walk to the Commons. The joys of transit-oriented living.
Michael Higby July 12, 2012 at 07:15 PM
Parking has always been an issue in NoHo. It is at least better than it was several years ago. I would agree towing a car that goes 30 or 60 minutes over is excessive. However you have to also consider from their perspective that folks were parking there for other businesses in the area, not paying and not patronizing the businesses that are paying for that structure via their leases. The whole reason I think that NoHo Commons was free initially was because of HOWS and most supermarkets do not make people pay to park in their lots. It still is a huge mistake that they replaced HOWS with 24 Hour Fitness. But you can thank our former (thank God) idiot Councilman and a realtor who has no clue about what NoHo is for that.
Tatyanna M. Wilkinson August 15, 2012 at 02:41 AM
I ride my bike or walk to the Arts District. I agree with those that hope folks consider not driving as much. I think folks who are advocating some type of boycott or "let the area die" just don't get how culturally enriching this area is.
Shant K. October 09, 2012 at 11:30 PM
Not sure if anyone is keeping up with this... but the 1-hour (and 30-minute) policy for the poorly-marked spaces is still strictly enforced. I am very familiar with their parking procedures because I use the lot every day for the gym. Here is what I have noticed about their standard operating procedures: There is a "security guard" who DRIVES drives his big-ass crown victoria (yes, drives even though it is a relatively small 1 story lot) and constantly marks all of the cars in the 30-minute and 1-hour spaces. As soon as the hour is up, he calls the tow truck and the car is towed away very quickly. After towing the car, the "security guard" follows the tow truck around the corner over to Blakeslee Ave. where the tow trick driver and the security guard step out of their cars and chat. Up till this point, everything I know is based on my own observations. However, I speculate that the "security guard" is probably getting some sort of a 'kickback' or 'bounty' for every car he has towed from the lot. I only make this speculation because I see no other reason to enforce the policy so strictly on a weekday morning when the lot is not crowded and is ultimately a paid lot. I personally don't mind that it is a paid lot now, because the gym validates for 3 hours, but I am bothered by how strictly they enforce the towing policy.
antonia j December 20, 2012 at 08:14 PM
my vehicle was on the tow truck just as the one hour limit was reached on my vehicle yesterday. i pulled my ticket at 11:36 am and parked (maybe this took four minutes) i did my regular 45 min workout at the gym and promptly gathered my things and validated my ticket. as i walked out to my car (this was now 12:40 pm) the unscrupulous bastards had my vehicle securely attached to their tow truck. i went ballistic on them and insisted that they "drop my f*&$!ing car...they did. this tow policy is ridiculous and an obvious scam to profit the tow company and yes, likely the patrol officer. noho commons should be ashamed of themselves and there is a definite need for policy change especially since they are now charging for parking.
antonia j December 20, 2012 at 08:15 PM
btw, i parked in the one hour space primarily because when i pulled into the lot, the patrol officer was scanning the area with a spotlight as if he were looking for somebody hiding in between the cars. concerned for my own safety and that of my vehicle, i decided to utilize the one hour space because that was more than enough time for me to do my workout and leave the gym. i figured, better to park and walk nearby the "security" officer. ha! i had no idea that security is that last this they care about and that these guys just lay in wait watching the clock and pouncing immediately on a vehicle as the final seconds of the hour tick. absolutely ridiculous! seems to me that they have resolved the problem of people parking all day and taking the subway across the street by installing the ticket booth. the businesses affected by this parking facility should raise hell~this unfortunately is going to affect them the most.

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