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City Buzz: Magnolia Park merchants seek solutions to parking problems

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Photo: FLLewis/Media City G -- 3400 block of Magnolia Boulevard Burbank August 8, 2014

Photo: FLLewis/Media City G — 3400 block of Magnolia Boulevard Burbank August 8, 2014

Magnolia Boulevard has become a victim of its own success. For years, owners of the quaint shops, antique and collectibles stores, and moderately priced eateries, fought mightily to draw attention to their sleepy street in Burbank’s Magnolia Park. Well, that’s all changed. Magnolia Boulevard is now a hip cool place to shop, mingle, dine, and hang out. The new popularity has aggravated parking problems, which have always dogged the boulevard. Those parking problems have sparked a major conflict among some merchants in the 3400 block of West Magnolia. At the center of this angry storm is Romancing the Bean.

Photo: FLLewis/ Media City G -- Romancing the Bean 3413 West Magnolia Boulevard Burbank August 8, 2014

Photo: FLLewis/ Media City G — Romancing the Bean 3413 West Magnolia Boulevard Burbank August 8, 2014

Popular eatery Romancing the Bean

There is a lot of love out there for Romancing the Bean. Folks rave about the coffee, food, decor, and much more. There is a glowing review about it by a guest blogger here on Media City Groove. Over the years, the coffeehouse/cafe has had several locations in the Media City. In October of 2012, it opened at  the present location, 3413 West Magnolia Boulevard.

Romancing the Bean took over the space of a former restaurant and a retail shop for a total of 2,000 square feet. Romancing the Bean apparently was able to sidestep the parking requirements for a restaurant by getting its parking calculated as if it were retail. I dropped by Romancing the Bean on Friday, August 8, and a co-manager told me they had only two parking stalls in back. One for handicap customers and the other is used by the owner, Kerry Krull. I left my card for Krull to allow her the opportunity to comment on the parking problems. (So far, I have not heard from her)

By the way, the establishment has seating for at least 50 inside and another 10 or so outside on a patio located on the public walkway. Also, the eatery now offers free WiFi, which has extended the stay of many of its customers. A huge plus for Romancing the Bean. On the other hand, some store and shop owners on that block say it’s been deadly for their businesses.

Photo: FLLewis / Media City G-- Ralph Persinger owner of Burbank Antiques 3423 West Magnolia Boulevard Burbank August 8, 2014

Photo: FLLewis / Media City G– Ralph Persinger owner of Burbank Antiques 3423 West Magnolia Boulevard Burbank August 8, 2014

Parking complaints from other business owners

Ralph Persinger is frustrated with the parking problems in front of his business, Burbank Antiques , at 3423 West Magnolia Boulevard. When I dropped by his shop, Persinger told me the situation is “out of control.” He says, “… we’re all getting hammered. Unless you can get people to buy — you’re screwed.” Persinger has owned the shop for five years. He claims business is down  50-70 percent because his customers can’t find parking on Magnolia in front of his shop. Persinger says he has watched Romancing the Bean patrons park on the block and stay for “several hours.” He insists this is  “… not fair to the rest of us.”

Alice Danescu of Burbank Books and Antiques,3429 West Magnolia, agrees with Persinger:  “We should have equal space for parking for our customers.” In business only a few months, Charlotte Carpenter Lewis admits that if she had known of the parking problem she would have probably picked a different location. The former NBC Page/actress/television production employee now runs Miss Charlotte’s Vintage at 3429  #B West Magnolia.

Photo: FLLewis/ Media City G -- Miss Charlotte's Vintage 3429 #B West Magnolia Boulevard Burbank August 8,2014

Photo: FLLewis/ Media City G — Miss Charlotte’s Vintage 3429 #B West Magnolia Boulevard Burbank August 8,2014

Carpenter-Lewis stresses the need for better enforcement of parking restrictions. Also, she supports a change from two hours to one hour parking on this block of Magnolia. She believes the merchants should work together: “Retail and restaurants can complement each other. Then everybody wins.” Landlord, Daniel May, has several tenants on the block. May says business for  four of his retail tenants has dropped so much they’re having “a hard time paying their rents” and are “thinking of closing their retail stores to move elsewhere.”  May blames the clientele at Romancing the Bean whom he says “…have been monopolizing the street parking.” He too supports a change to one-hour parking on that block.

Merchants take complaints to city council

May was one of several people who went before the Burbank City Council last Tuesday to voice their concerns about the parking problems on this stretch of Magnolia Boulevard. Recently, city officials have received numerous phone calls, letters, and emails detailing the parking complaints. At the council meeting, Mark Scott, city manager, announced the complaints are being taken seriously:”I’ve been aware of this issue for two weeks. It’s gonna to take a little bit of time to go through all these issues…. we do want to make sure that we have an opportunity to hear from all the different affected parties and there are many.”

City manager says proposal in the works

Scott pointed out one issue is at the top of the list: ” We actually believe that it’s time to put in the signal (Magnolia Boulevard and Lima Street).  Those of us who do this for a living, know you put in a crosswalk in a place like that without a signal we’ll probably lose a life sooner or later. So we want very badly not to have that happen as a result of the crosswalk. We are ready to work up the proposal on a signal and try to get that done.” Applause broke out in the audience following Scott’s remarks.

Also, Scott went on to say the proposal will include “… some of those other issues as well. We can look at the one hour. We can talk about whether it benefits to stripe the street. .. we’ll be talking about how best to look at the enforcement out there and the police department is very ready and prepared to engage in that dialogue. So we’ll do all those things as quickly as we can.”

Mayor Dr. David Gordon weighed in saying he had “… over three decades of familiarity with that area, and the parking problems, and the pedestrian problems, and the business challenges in that area.” Mayor Gordon says he’ll wait to see Scott’s proposal before making any decisions on solutions. However,Gordon joined with a number of the speakers in calling for “some immediate attention paid to the enforcement” of parking limits on Magnolia Boulevard. Also, Dr. Gordon brought up another issue: “Encroachment in the right away with respect to dining. Because some of these chairs and seats are right up against the curb. And also makes parking –in and out of cars— hazardous as well. Just one other aspect I think  we need clarified.”

City officials need to really move quickly on resolving these issues. The situation has ignited animosity and some harsh allegations.  More on that coming.

http://www.mediacitygroove.com/news-general-info/talk-of-the-town-allegations-of-harassment-and-bullying-in-parking-dispute

 

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10 Responses to City Buzz: Magnolia Park merchants seek solutions to parking problems

  1. Kattren Sunday, August 17, 2014 at 8:26 pm #

    Thank you for writing this piece! The parking in this area is certainly an issue.

    I truly enjoy walking along and shopping in all the great antique and unique shops. I was curious why there was such an issue with parking within the last year.

    It seems like there are a lot of people at Romancing the Bean and they just sit there for hours. I walk up and down the street and see the same faces when I come and go.

    I asked a few people sitting outside if they had good food. One customer said “it’s okay – but they offer free wi-fi and let you stay all day.” I thought – wow, that’s odd. So, I went inside and checked out the menu. I hadn’t purchased anything anything but asked if they had free wi-fi like the customer outside mentioned – the girl at the counter said “yes” and openly gave me the wi-fi code without even confirming I was planning to purchase anything. I never ended up using the code or buying anything there. I also asked about parking – she said they didn’t have specific parking spots.

    If it were simply a retail outlet where people spend 15-20 minutes and walk to the next shop – this wouldn’t be an issue. But, it’s a restaurant and people stay there for hours and hours. The free wi-fi invites people to lounge and work. It doesn’t make them want to pick up coffee and leave.

    It seems like the bigger stores that attract customers who spend a lot of time offer parking – such as American Way (lot behind the store) or Do-It Center. There is even a sign in front of It’s a Wrap that advises people to park in the Church parking lot if need be.

    There has to be a way to resolve this issue without having Romancing the Bean negatively impact all the other shop owners who have been there longer. The owner of Romancing the Bean, landlord of the space, and City may need to figure out parking in the area. I don’t think it’s fair to limit the parking all around because of one place – but at the same time, I think they need to set up alternatives for THEIR customers.

  2. Beverlee Nelson Monday, August 18, 2014 at 6:37 pm #

    Re: Magnolia Parking outside Romancing the Bean. I have shopped in that block for many years, and find it increasingly difficult to find parking, even behind the stores that have their own spaces! I tend to circle the block and then drive on if I can’t find a spot. I have shopped at Best of Times forever and Sunday decided I HAD to visit the shop. I ended up parking illegally, which I didn’t want to do. It’s very frustrating to circle the block and STILL not find parking! Please help these merchants.

  3. Bill Czappa Monday, August 18, 2014 at 8:15 pm #

    It seems like this is the cities fault for allowing this kind of business that would draw that many customers I the first place. The solution of 1 hour parking seems to be a reasonable solution. The bean could also discontinue Wi fi if they really carried about their neighbors though as that just makes people stay longer. Good for them bur very harmful to everyone else. Or the city could find a better location for the Bean that actually has parking since they caused the problem in the first place. Portals has already made a mess of things as it is.

  4. Fronnie Tuesday, August 19, 2014 at 11:10 pm #

    Kattren,

    Others have made the same observation about some of the Romancing the Bean customers staying for “hours.” Yes, it’s time that something is worked out that is fair to all. Many of the merchants are supportive of the one hour restriction. I agree with you, that if the owner of Romancing the Bean came up with some kind of alternative parking for a number of her customers — a change in the parking restriction from two-to-one hour might not be necessary.

  5. Fronnie Tuesday, August 19, 2014 at 11:16 pm #

    Beverlee,

    I agree, parking has become a frustrating situation on that block. Many years ago, it was not that difficult, but now, well you know what it’s like. It’s sad when you have to risk parking illegally, and getting a ticket for it, in order to go into one of the shops. City officials need to come up with some workable solutions — before customers decide to go elsewhere.

  6. Fronnie Tuesday, August 19, 2014 at 11:23 pm #

    Bill,

    I agree, the city must take a chunk of the responsibility for creating these parking problems by allowing Romancing the Bean to open in this location — without the proper parking for a cafe/restaurant of its size. That’s why it’s really up to the city to come up with the solutions. They’ve received a number of suggestions from merchants on the block — now is the time for city officials to take action.

  7. CG Friday, August 22, 2014 at 10:45 am #

    I am a regular customer at Romancing the Bean and I too have difficulty finding a parking spot. So I park in the public lot across the street and walk to the Bean, as suggested in a large sign in the cafe. Honestly I have never noticed hordes of people staying for HOURS at the cafe. And if some do, the number is not significant. The merchants who are complaining should consider ways to entice cafe goers into their stores rather than complaining about the café’s success.

  8. Fronnie Friday, August 22, 2014 at 11:59 am #

    CG,

    Glad to hear there is a sign in the Bean encouraging patrons to park in the public lot. Many of the Bean’s neighbor merchants have been there 10 or more years and have their own clientele. I don’t hear the merchants complaining about the Bean’s success. They want the street parking to be open to their customers. One-hour parking restriction on the street and vigorous enforcement by traffic patrol officers should take care of some of the parking problems.

  9. Miss Magnolia Saturday, August 23, 2014 at 2:22 am #

    Hello, I am President and Founder of the Magnolia Park Merchants Association, in which Laree Adel and Kerry Krull are both a part of. Our goal of the association is to rebuild and grow Magnolia park through community outreach, events, and economic development. With my involvement in Magnolia Park, I am frequently in the area 3-4 times a week and at all times of the day. I rarely ever have trouble parking, and when I can’t find a street spot, I more than likely find a spot on the side streets at Lima or Avon. Worst case scenario, I park at the PUBLIC PARKING LOT located on Lima behind Simply Coffee. Magnolia park is a shopping and dining area which means that walking around to multiple shops is highly encouraged. We are also Burbank’s “First Green District” in which we encourage customers to ride or walk to Magnolia park. As an association we are hoping and encouraging more eateries and restaurants to invest in the area because they bring the most foot traffic and more attention to the boutiques and stores in Magnolia park. The cafes give people a reason to come out, and when they sit to dine, they notice all of the wonderful antique stores, fashion boutiques, vintage stores, and so on. The demographics are changing in Magnolia park, and we are making the correct adjustments to make sure we can cater to the audience that lives and shops around the Magnolia Park area. Unfortunately things have rolled completely out of control in this situation and we hope to resolve it next week at the meeting. The City of Burbank shows a lot of support for the Magnolia Park Merchants Association and our efforts to better the area and we know whatever decision they come to, will be the best one for all the merchants in the Magnolia Park area.

  10. Fronnie Saturday, August 23, 2014 at 11:44 am #

    Miss Magnolia,

    Very well said. There’s hope that the calm and reasonable voices in your association will prevail and all of the merchants will be able to benefit from Magnolia Park’s growth.

Comments are closed.