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LA Cha Cha Chá
Photograph: Courtesy Alejandro Marin

Free street parking will finally be going away in the Arts District soon

LADOT is launching a pilot program for on-street paid parking.

Michael Juliano
Written by
Michael Juliano

UPDATE: After repeated vandalism of the new meters and community pushback, the Arts District parking pilot “has been paused,” according to the program’s website, with more info due “in the coming days.” Our original story appears below.

Every Angeleno probably has their own opinion on the absolute worst neighborhood to find street parking. For us, the Arts District absolutely has to be up there. Driving to the revitalized district on the edge of Downtown L.A. pretty much always tests how many times you’re willing to circle the block. Well, that might soon get a little less daunting—for a cost, of course.

Starting on December 15, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation will launch a pilot program that turns much of the area’s previously free and often unrestricted street parking into metered spaces. Lines will be drawn to designate spaces and time limits will be added, as well. Fees can be paid at one of five kiosks in the neighborhood or via a pair of smartphone apps. Though pricing has yet to be posted, the spots will be part of LADOT’s L.A. Express Park program, a dynamically-priced system that varies with demand and lets you see availability online.

Not all of the neighborhood will be converted to paid parking; the pilot program covers the area roughly between 1st Street, the L.A. River and 4th Street, with an irregular boundary to the west that terminates around the bustling corner of Traction Avenue and 3rd Street, near LA Cha Cha Cha. That means everything south of Bavel and Resident is still free, as is the northwest-most area by Angel City Brewery.

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LADOT attributes the program to the area’s rise in popularity in recent years. In fact, the Arts District claimed our very own reader-voted title of “coolest neighborhood” this year, though it arguably could’ve won that title at any time over the past five-plus years. Our point: It’s a very busy, well-to-do nightlife hub, and one somehow full of 10-hour or completely unrestricted street parking as if it’s still a warehouse district. Theoretically, the introduction of paid street parking will keep more spots open by limiting the maximum time and by pushing other drivers into lots or garages, using valet or—here’s a radical idea—taking advantage of the nearby, cost-effective Metro station that’s now served by two light rail lines that crisscross a significant portion of the city.

Elsewhere in the city, parking on streets served by the L.A. Express Park system ranges from 50 cents to $6 an hour, and those rates are routinely updated based on demand. You can find a map of the location of the five pay stations in the Arts District that’ll accept cash or credit, though we suspect most visitors will opt to use either the Park Smarter or ParkMobile apps (which has a 10-cent transaction fee; Park Smarter doesn’t), which allow you to monitor and add time remotely.

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