Friday, December 5, 2008

Misadventures in Driving in LA: Parking Edition

I'm happy that my commute to my new job is only 4 miles long. What I'm not happy about is that in the grand spirit of working in an office in Los Angeles proper, FREE parking is not that easy to find.

Fortunately for me, I'm cheap enough and have the wherewithal to make sure I don't have to resort to such things.

Sure, I could pay for parking at the 2 hour max. meters around, or pay $5 flat rate at the indoor and pretty secure apartment parking structure a block away, but why do something like that when a little bit of effort nabs you a spot for $0? Also by looking for free places to park, you get a better sense of your surroundings and possible shortcuts you may one day have to take.

I now have a "system" to find myself some parking. I take my usual route, and when I'm getting kind of close, I start scoping out my last resort spots. They're relatively close, but kind of not in a safe area, and even though it's supposed to be in a 1 hour only zone, it doesn't seem that most of the cars on the street actually move from their spots. When I'm closer to my work, I look for some Golden Spots, and if there aren't spaces, I'll go down more and around the corner to a street that has poles for meters, but no meters on them, so you don't have to pay, but they sometimes enforce the 1 or 2 hour parking limit, but I've been lucky so far.

Of course, the ideal place to park are these aforementioned Golden Spots. For some strange reason, there is a strip of curb long enough for 6-8 cars and has no meter, no parking or street sweeping restrictions, and is directly across the street from my office. By the time I come in, most of the spots are taken, but there is a bit of curb that's after a driveway and right before a fire hydrant at the corner that can hold two cars; sometimes someone parks like a jerk and it becomes one space, but sometimes, that place is completely empty.

Today, was one of those days.

I was happy when I saw the entire spot completely free, which allowed me to park the way I want, so that someone else could park behind me (good parking karma). The only thing is that I work in a rather busy area, and that intersection gets pretty congested, so when I was going for the space, I was able to squeeze past the last parked car and the car in queue at the light so I can pull over and park. The only problem with that was several cars followed suit, but they were planning on squeezing through so they could get into the non-official lane to turn right, so when I parked, I essentially blocked their way.

When the light turned green, people were baffled and honking as to why I was just sitting there, gathering my stuff, and I tried to mime in the best and most polite way possible, "I'm staying here. I am parked."

Yes, some people were pissed. When I got out of the car, the woman who was behind me the entire time looked angry and started talking to me.

"Why did you park there? You're blocking the way."
"This is a parking space."
"You can't park there."
"Yes, I can. This is a parking space...there's no red here."
"Well, this isn't a good parking space."

I do have to agree with her in a way, but still, it's right across the street, free and unrestricted, so I'm staying.

After seeing several cars were behind her and honking, I didn't want to risk crossing right there and took the 10 steps to the crosswalk, where a man who got backed up because of me rolled down the window at the light as I was waiting to cross.

"You have to make a right turn! You were blocking the way!"
"I'm sorry, but I signaled, and that is a parking space."
"You can't park there! There's a hydrant!"
"No, I can park there, sir. There's no red on the curb."

As he continued to try yelling at me, I got the go to cross, and I swiftly went behind his car and crossed the street.

Free parking isn't always the nicest and easiest thing to do. But if you've got the fortitude and the belief that parking should be free, it can be found.

Here's a quick and dirty tip on free parking:

FIND THE BROKEN METERS. Sure, it does say sometimes that you're not supposed to park there, but the trick for these is that you should take a minute to call the number listed on the parking meter and report that failed meter, and make sure to get that person's name. Sometimes failed meters reset on their own, or get fixed while you're gone, and if that happens and you get a ticket, you can say you're the one who reported the broken meter and can contest the ticket. If you do this, make sure to get the location and time you're there. Also make sure to obey any other parking rules of that space, including if there are time limits at certain times of day or street sweeping the day and time you're there.


1 comment:

  1. hmmm, there are actually restrictions regarding how close you can park to a hydrant (whether the curb is red or not) but i am not sure what they are. so beware! xoxo