There’s something you should know if you’re planning on coming to Los Angeles: it’s a difficult place to find a parking spot in.You might laugh and think, no big deal…I can deal with that. Seriously though, I’m telling you: parking in Los Angeles is hard. Really hard. Telling you that it’s hard might be the understatement of the century, actually. Let me re-phrase that:
Finding parking in Los Angeles is an extremely, incredibly frustrating activity.
I mean, come ON. Who builds a city that has such crap public transportation that the entire city is forced to get around by car, and then NOT build in suitable parking? Honestly!
I was an L.A. kid growing up, but mercifully I lived in a suburban neighborhood where parking was plentiful. Some of my relatives, however, lived (and continue to live) in the thick of it all and I’ve observed the difficulties they face when dealing with parking as a result.
I get a taste of it every time I drive up for a weekend, and I always leave remembering just how fortunate I am to live in a place where there is always somewhere to leave my car at night.
Have you ever driven around for hours trying to park your car at your house? Have you ever gotten a $100 parking ticket because there was nowhere in front of your house to park and you pulled up in the red zone just to unload your 7 heavy bags of groceries because you didn’t want to try and carry them for 9 blocks? Have you ever gotten so mad at someone that you’re seeing red because they parked in the middle of an area that could have easily fit two cars had they just pulled forward a little?
Welcome to life in the city of Angels.
If you’re going to be visiting any popular destinations around town, you’re going to want to have a lot of cash and an absurd amount of quarters with you because chances are you’ll be paying to park and sometimes the meters and pay lots are cash/quarters only (some do take credit cards, but don’t count on it).
Whatever you do, NEVER let a parking meter run out of time. If you do, a meter cop will materialize out of thin air the moment the clock runs out and will write you a very expensive ticket. Don’t try to negotiate with her either…this will only anger her. These people have no sympathy and don’t care what your excuse is. If you’re in the middle of dinner….RUN out there and put more change in the meter. If you’re in the middle of a movie…leave and put change in the meter. Do NOT let the meter run out of time.
Let’s talk about the logistics of parking in L.A. for a moment. Let’s start with an easy, everyday parking sign. Have you ever seen a parking sign like this?
Let’s break this sign down for a moment. You can’t stop at all between the hours of 4pm to 7pm, unless it’s a Saturday or Sunday. Ok. Easy enough to understand. But…then it goes on. During the days of Monday through Friday, you can only park here for one hour between the hours of 8am and 4pm. On Saturdays, you can park here for one hour between 8am and 8pm. This leaves it open to interpretation as to whether or not you’re able to park there at all Monday through Friday between the hours of 4pm and 8am, Saturdays before 8am or after 8pm, and Sundays at all. One can assume parking for longer periods of time is ok during the “off hours” because it only said you couldn’t stop during certain times, but that stopping was ok on the weekends. So, you can assume that if it’s a Sunday and you want to park for two hours, you’re ok to do so.
Now, imagine if you will that you are driving around Los Angeles in traffic where everybody is changing lanes and being generally aggressive on the road and you’re looking for parking. You only have a moment’s notice to take in the sign and interpret it’s meaning because if you stop at all to figure it out you’ll probably get rear-ended, or at the very least, some angry Angelinos will start honking at you.
Let’s look at another one.
Ok, so this one appears to be saying the following…
You can’t park here on Tuesdays during the hours of 11am to 1pm due to street cleaning (do NOT disobey street cleaning signs in L.A…ever. You WILL get a ticket). On Mondays through Fridays that happen to be school days, you will be towed if you park here between the hours of 7:30am to 4pm. It’s cool, however, to park here for a maximum of 15 minutes on school days during the hours of 7:30am to 8am if you are here on school business. What constitutes school business? Does that include parents dropping off their kids, or are we talking about employees of the school going about their work only? It goes on to tell us that there is one hour parking on Monday through Friday between the hours of 4pm to 6pm, but you’ll get towed on school days. Wait…did I get that right? So, does that mean I can park there for an hour on non-school days? I’m so confused. Those with district permits seem to be exempt to this rule. However, it also says “once per day, per district”. Does that mean you can park here for an hour once per day per school district? So I can’t park here for an hour and then go park in front of another school in the same district for an hour in the same day? You will also get towed away if you park here for more than an hour on non-school days, but only between Sunday at midnight and Friday at 6pm. Wait…I can park here for an hour? I thought I couldn’t. You also can’t stop here at all between Friday at 6pm and Sunday at midnight…unless you have a district permit, of course, though I couldn’t imagine why somebody would need to come park here on the weekends if they work for the school. Aren’t they off then? I honestly couldn’t tell you when you are actually allowed to park here. I would say it’s best to avoid it altogether.
Let’s look at another one, shall we? If you thought that last one was bad, that’s child’s play compared to this:
….I don’t even know what to think about this. Should I even try to break this down? This isn’t a joke, people. This is a real, actual parking sign in L.A. Why not just have a “no parking” sign and be done with it? And what are all those cars doing parked there? They must know something I don’t….
Honestly, everyone I know in L.A. carries a parking-related anxiety with them wherever they go. This is a conversation I’ve heard many times in this city:
“Hey, you want to go to that new restaurant tonight?”
“Only if you drive. I found a parking spot in front of my apartment and I don’t want to lose it.”
“Oh, yeah. I totally understand. I was hoping you would drive because I finally got home early enough to get a spot within a block of my place and I don’t want to lose it, either.”
“Ah, yeah. I get it. Well…some other time then.”
People are trapped in their homes because they are too afraid of losing a parking spot! This is real, people!
So I guess the takeaway is that if you’re coming to L.A.
…..be prepared. And maybe just take an Uber.