The heart of East Los Angeles rests in between 3rd Street and Civic Center Way. Just about every public service can be found here. There's the county hall, the courthouse, the, probation office, the library, the wellness center, and a park.
All of these services share a small parking lot, with mostly reserved spots and the remaining spots are limited to three hours. On Saturdays, the non-profit VELA, Volunteers of East Los Angeles, hosts the East Los Angeles Farmers Market, which blocks a large portion of the three-hour parking spaces. If unable to find a three-hour parking space, drivers are directed to a parking structure that closes at three. If you're handicapped and don't snatch up one of the few spaces reserved, you could be walking down six flights of stairs in the parking structure because there isn't an elevator available.
Jasmine Barragan was on crutches and was late to her test. Barragan said it's problematic that there isn't an elevator in the parking structure.
Building Craft Superintendent Bill Hurtado, said even though there is some reserved parking, there is still plenty of parking available to the public. "We have over 150 spaces for the public to use", said Hurtado who gave me a list of all of the total spaces available on the property. Out of all of the spaces, 120 of those parking spaces are located in Lot 76, the parking structure on the property, according to Hurtado's list.
However, the parking attendant of the structure said the parking could turn into a nightmare on trial days at the courthouse. "If they can't get one of the reserved spots, some of the court employees park in the public parking spots. If I recognize the car, I text the sheriff and they can get a ticket," said parking attendant who asked not to be identified.
Hurtado said that each department is given a certain amount of reserved spaces for their employees. The employees just need to display their permit and it is free of cost to them. "We don't charge for the permits here", said Hurtado.
On weekends, the parking scene can be just as bad. Since the East Los Angeles is the hub of East Los Angeles, most of the events for residents are held here. The city had an ice skating rink on Saturday Nov. 22 and all of the handicap spaces were blocked off.
Operator 078 Jasmine of the Parking Violation Bureau said a parking violation in the permit zone would cost 68 dollars. "The area is patrolled everyday but I couldn't tell you how often," said Jasmine.
If there is absolutely no parking available on the property, drivers are then directed to Gleason Street. According to a Google Map search, Gleason Street is about one mile away from the Civic Center. There are only 45 spots available on Gleason Street, two are reserved for the handicapped as stated on the list provided by Hurtado.
The East Los Angeles Civic Center is just one example of the many instances of parking nightmares in Los Angeles. Sometimes trying to understand a parking sign can more difficult than finding a spot. There are Los Angeles City Council members like Paul Krekorian, who took notice of the confusing signage and he is now proposing to replace current signs with grid-style like signs that have very few words. Communications Director for Councilman Krekorian, Ian Thompson said so far the councilman hasn't had any opposition to the proposal. "In fact, the Department of Transportation agreed and told him to present a new design in 45 days," said Thompson. He believes other council members will likely join Krekorian's proposal and have signs changed in their districts as well.
Supervisor Gloria Molina's office refused to comment on the situation. Residents and even employees like the parking attendant want to see more spaces available for the general public at the Civic Center. "Maybe now that she won't be representing the First District anymore we can get more parking here", said anonymous attendant.
In the meantime, if you plan on going to the Civic Center, be prepared to fight for a spot or walk nearly a mile. Whatever you do, don't park in one of the many reserved spaces because a parking violation ticket could end up costing you more than what the spot is worth.