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Have It Your Way by:
Don Dunham

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Barfly Tales From The Barstool By: Clint Lien

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In My Opinion
By L.N.P.

It's 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?

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