A recurring complaint about Colorado Boulevard is that the street does not provide enough parking. This may be a valid concern, but when we gain parking we usually have to lose something in exchange. Walkability, attractive store fronts, lively sidewalks…
Perhaps the three most known examples of where parking has been gained in Eagle Rock, the story has not been pretty.
First lets recall the event considered to have sparked the formation of The Eagle Rock Association, April 1st 1986:
“In response to the threatened destruction of the historic business buildings at the corner of Townsend and Colorado. Kathleen Aberman stands on the building’s roof in an attempt to ward off the surprise demolition by the owner.” – Eagle Rock Historic Society
In the middle right is the building Aberman tried to rescue. Photo credit: Metro Library and Archive
Another two views of the building
The building in the center of the picture is the one that was destroyed. Image credit: Eagle Rock by Eric Warren
A close up of the building. Image credit: Eagle Rock by Eric Warren
Aberman was unsuccessful in protecting the historic building at the intersection of Townsend Avenue and Colorado Boulevard. The building was demolished and replaced by a strip mall, which has close to 30 parking spaces.
Today the location looks like this
Photo credit: Google Maps
Was it worth it? Sure there’s enough parking now, but we lost a beautiful structure. On any given day the parking lot sits half empty and has made the corner rather unambitious and undesirable. When visitors rave about destinations in our neighborhood, never have I heard anyone cite this structure as particularly attractive or wonderful. Locals never brag about the aesthetics or social value of this structure.
More often, visitors and locals alike appreciate and enjoy locations with historic buildings that predate parking demand. Like the building now famous for housing Swork
Photo credit: UrbanPhotoAdventures
or the charming building that prominently features The Coffee Table
Another bitter, well-known tale in which the community gained parking takes place at the intersection of Eagle Rock Boulevard and Colorado Boulevard. The story is perhaps best described by Eagle Rock resident Rebecca Niederlander:
“More than 20,000 signatures were collected to help the city understand the value Eagle Rock places on its history and culture. Many people went to city hall meetings and spoke to the possibilities of compromises that could be worked to meet everyone’s goals. That streamline moderne building, was the flagship store for the Shopping Bag Grocery chain. And had a place in La’s history. But the LA Conservancy will tell you now, as they told us back when they offered, pro bono, all the help they could to try to get the building saved, that Los Angeles governmental agencies do not often work for the citizens and smaller communities of our city.
And so we as a community lost the possibility of having the Walgreens rehab and beautify our history, and the 14,000 sq. ft. building (pretty much the exact size of the one they built) was destroyed.” – Rebecca Niederlander
Niederlander describes the loss of a building located in the commercial center of Eagle Rock. We lost this
The Shopping Bag Building. Image Credit: Eagle Rock by Eric Warren
And Eagle Rock gained this
Over 50 parking spaces and structures that have little aesthetic value, originality and historic merit– soulless faux mission inspired architecture.
Lastly, one of the most iconic buildings of Eagle Rock’s past was again lost in the name of parking in the heart of Eagle Rock.
Security Bank Building. Image credit: Eagle Rock by Eric Warren
More pictures of the beautiful building
Picture credit: Metro Library and Archive
Picture credit: Metro Library and Archive
The building has since been replaced with this
Same corner that once featured the Security Bank Building. Picture credit: Google Maps
The corner has since been slightly cleaned up, now housing a Chase Bank, but the building is nowhere near as beautiful or socially valuable to the community. The lot has over 20 parking spaces.
At what point will Eagle Rock have enough parking? How many more historic buildings need to be destroyed before those that demand more parking are appeased?
Proponents for parking argue that it will benefit the local businesses from the added parking. This may be partially true but when I think of successful Eagle Rock businesses, there seems to be little correlation with amount of parking. Consider businesses like Casa Bianca, The Coffee Table, Brownstone Pizzeria– why are they successful? None of them provide any special parking lots for their customers, simply relying on curbside parking. Businesses like Oinkster provide many parking spaces (the property has about 20 parking spaces) though I don’t think parking has been the sole or primary reason for its success. One would think that if parking were a marker of success, the pitiful strip mall at Townsend Avenue and Colorado Boulevard would be Eagle Rock’s most prized possession– but it isn’t.
In a community like Eagle Rock, which is very walkable, and proud, with locally supported businesses it seems that a businesses’ success is measured by how valuable it is to the community, not by how many parking spaces it provides. If something is desirable, people will flock to it by any means necessary.