After a week off, the Burbank City Council is back in session tomorrow. The five council members have a busy agenda over the next few weeks. On the list, the showdown over the parking issues in the 3400 block of Magnolia Boulevard. After festering for months, the dispute has boiled over, resulting in merchants slinging harsh allegations at each other and even a blistering “cease and desist” letter being delivered to two store owners. The city council needs to step in and resolve the matter.
On August 23, Ashley Erikson aka Miss Magnolia, President and Founder of the Magnolia Park Merchants Association, posted a comment on “City Buzz: Magnolia Park Seek Solutions to Parking Problems,” which included this: “Unfortunately things have rolled completely out of control in this situation and we hope to resolve it next week at the meeting.” Two of the association’s members involved in the dispute, Kerry Krull, of Romancing the Bean and Laree Adel, of the antique shop, The Best of Times, attended the association’s monthly meeting last Wednesday, September 3. I’m told no mention of the dispute or a solution at the meeting.
Meanwhile, the parking issues on that stretch of Magnolia Boulevard reportedly were discussed at a Burbank Traffic Commission meeting on August 28. The majority of stores in the 3400 block of Magnolia have complained that motorists are staying way past the two-hour limit, hurting their businesses, and aggravating many of their customers. Most of the offenders, they say, are customers of Romancing the Bean.
Two years ago next month, the Bean opened at 3413 West Magnolia Boulevard. The coffeehouse/cafe has had a spike in popularity since offering free Wifi. In an odd twist, the Bean has no designated customer parking. How city officials allowed this to happen has been the subject of many discussions in the Media City lately.
To increase the curbside turnover, the businesses, five antique and collectible shops, Ara Plus Printing, and Sous Shoe Repair want the parking limit changed to one hour. They say this would be fair to all, allowing more customers a chance to park on Magnolia Boulevard. However, the commission recommended no change. More surprising, the Burbank Leader reported city traffic engineer, Ken Johnson, said: “My studies show we can provide additional customer parking by eliminating the all-day parking.” What?
There is two-hour parking as well as all-day parking around the corner on the side streets of North Avon and North Lima Streets. These streets are mostly residential. The all day parking benefits residents and visitors alike, so no need to change it. If you want to spend a few hours at the Bean or shopping nearby, park on the side streets. Or there is some parking across Magnolia on Lima Street, behind Simply Coffee. By the way, this is not a totally public parking lot.
Johnson says Burbank has an arrangement with the owner, Worshipwalk church: “In order to improve the parking supply in Magnolia Park, the City and the church agreed for the city to improve the lot (resurfacing, curbs, and planting) if the church would permit public parking during weekdays and Saturday. The church uses the lot on Sunday, so it is closed to the public.”
City officials should make a similar arrangement with other nearby businesses that do not use their parking spaces on the weekends, especially Sunday. Also, they should approve the change to one hour parking in the 3400 block of Magnolia. Across from City Hall on Olive Avenue, there are several businesses, including a busy Another Broken Egg Cafe and FedEx Print & Ship Center. This stretch of Olive Avenue is designated as one-hour parking to encourage the turnover of spaces out front.
If it’s okay for this section of Olive Avenue, it should be okay for the 3400 block of Magnolia Boulevard. The businesses on that stretch of Magnolia Boulevard should not have to suffer because a “special deal” was made for the Bean to open without adequate parking. The city council should look closely at all the parking issues involved and come up with solutions that are fair to all of the merchants.