CityWatch, Feb 24, 2009
Vol 7 Issue 16
Six months ago, Jason Michaud went to the City of LA's website and ordered bike racks, intending to offer a free beverage to customers who rode their bikes and locked them in front of Local, his new 40 seat diner on Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake.
Since then, business is doing well. He now has 10 employees, seven of whom live within walking distance.
What he doesn't have is the bike racks promised by the City of Los Angeles.
Instead, he received a notice from the City of Los Angeles demanding that he add six parking spaces for cars, something that he reckons will set him back $2000 a month and that will have a devastating impact on his small business.
Ironically, Michaud opened Local with grand intentions of operating a sustainable business featuring locally sourced product, using recycled and biodegradable packaging, staffing with those from the neighborhood, advertising in the community newspapers and catering to a local clientele by encouraging them to walk, ride a bicycle or take mass transit.
"I still plan on executing those intentions," Michaud explained. "But it's much more difficult than I had envisioned and I'm not getting much help from the City. I'm a line cook who opened a restaurant and I'm just trying to figure it out."
It would seem that when a business operator works to get people out of their cars and onto their feet, a bike or a bus, the City of Los Angeles would support them rather than simply demanding "What about the parking spaces?"
There are 10,000 restaurants in the City of Los Angeles and yet there are only 3,000 curbside bike racks. Meanwhile, there are seven parking spaces for every vehicle in LA County.
If the leadership of our City is serious about supporting walkable, ridable and transit friendly communities, they'll start putting the same energy into providing the amenities that support pedestrians, cyclists and transit passengers as they put into the creation of more parking spaces.
The City of Los Angeles will be well on its way to becoming the "Greenest, Cleanest Big City "when it gets serious about getting into the business of supporting good behavior, good businesses and good people who simply want to improve the quality of life in their communities. (Stephen Box is a transportation activist and a cyclist advocate. Box writes for CityWatch.)