spring time, the sun is shining, and everything
is blossoming. Warm breezes blow; exotic fragrances
abound. Last month we moved our offices to Santa
Monica, and business is booming. So why should I
need to go on a rant?
Again, it's the little things. Here we are in brand
new offices, around the corner from the Third Street
Promenade. What could be better? Well, for one thing,
the parking. Parking in Santa Monica is an abomination.
There is none. Or rather, there is plenty
of parking for the casual once-a-month visitor to
the Promenade, or the weekly visitor to the Farmer's
market, or even the person who wants to shop or
have lunch or people-watch for an hour or two. But
the business people, the ones opening their
companies and bringing their businesses to Santa
Monica, the ones paying their business license fees
to the city, are getting screwed.
Now I realize that parking isn't a problem unique
to Santa Monica, or to Los Angeles. Every large
city has either no parking, or hugely expensive
parking. But in those cities, like my hometown of
New York, for example, you just don't drive
to work. Only morons take their cars into Manhattan.
You take commuter trains, you take cabs, you take
buses, you take subways; you do what you have to
do, but you don't drive. But we don't have
public transportation in L.A. Pretty much everyone
has to drive to get to work. I know a person who
is car-less, and takes the bus to work. Or, more
precisely, three buses. But he can't get home several
nights a week because certain buses, like the last
one on his route home, stop running before his job
is over. So basically, if you reside in the vast
suburbia, you have to drive to work; it's
an L.A. thing.
When we first moved in, we realized immediately
that to park in the closest parking structure cost
seven dollars per day. Naturally, we asked how we
could obtain one of those little plastic cards that
allowed people to park on a monthly basis for less
money, and we were told to sign up on "the list."
Eager to comply, we learned that the waiting period
for "the list" was at least one year. That's real
comforting, but who knows where we'll be in a year?
Broke, from having everyone in our office shell
out seven bucks a day to park? Lame, from walking
up and down eight flights of stairs because the
elevators are generally not working? I guess adequate
elevator service isn't included in the seven bucks.
Maybe we have to pay extra for that.
There are other options. We can park on the
street at a metered space, if we happen to be fortunate
enough to find one. They are one hour spaces, of
course, so that means you and your employees have
to drop whatever you're doing every hour and run
down to put more money in the meter. That's if we
don't happen to be so engrossed in what we're doing
that we forget; then we get a $35 ticket. And, since
we like our employees engrossed in what they're
doing, they are bound to forget, at least occasionally.
Or, we can play musical parking structures. That
basically means staying for the free minimum time
allotted in one, then running out and moving the
car to another structure, and staying for the minimum
in that one, and so on. Again, there's the constant
threat of the dreaded $35 ticket, not to mention
being more preoccupied with the time you have left
in your parking structure than the work you are
doing on your computer!
If I had the money, I'd build a huge parking complex
just outside the congestion, and run continuous
shuttle buses, like they do at the airport, so people
could park, relax, and go do their jobs. I'd charge
half what they do in the parking structures, and
probably become a billionaire. Since I don't
have the money, I offer the suggestion, free
of charge, to anyone who does.
Of course, parking is the problem you face once
you actually get to Santa Monica. First you
have to get there. Living in Woodland Hills, we
have two options. We can go the freeway route, which
includes the 405 at rush hour, which doesn't really
seem like an option at all. Who would do that if
they could take Topanga Canyon and gaze at the ocean
while gliding down the Pacific Coast Highway? It's
a no brainer. It would also seem like a no brainer
that the Department of Transportation would not
choose to do road construction on the PCH during
rush hour, making what should be a pleasant, scenic
45-minute commute turn into an hour and fifteen
minute crawl. Apparently, that's just too logical
for those DOT guys to consider. Who cares about
those thousands of people trying desperately to
get to work on time? Maybe the city of Santa Monica
and the DOT are actually in collusion. Maybe they
don't want people to work in Santa Monica.
But then why do they keep renovating and/or building
all those new offices? And why was that little guy
from the City Business License Department smiling
when he arrived to collect our fees, right after
we moved in?