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Winning space race

Many said it would never happen, but city reinstates some parking spots.

November 28, 2009|By Christopher Cadelago

WEST BURBANK — A group of small-business owners near the 900 block of South Victory Boulevard is claiming victory after a four-month tussle with the city to restore nearly 200 feet of street parking.

Property owners marched into Council Chambers in July after the city — providing little or no notice — removed between 12 and 18 parking spaces in the area to accommodate a second left-turn lane at Victory Boulevard and Alameda Avenue.

Glen Bergstrom, owner of Burbank’s House of Hobbies, was notified less than 24 hours before his 50 to 70 driving customers per day were stripped of more than 80% of their parking, he said.

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“I had a feeling we would be successful. I was always positive about it,” said Bergstrom, who became a kind of ringleader for a revolving door of merchants who voiced their displeasure at City Council. “The whole time some of my customers repeated: ‘You’re never going to get that back. You’re never going to get that back.’”

It didn’t take long for Ken Johnson, the city’s traffic engineer, to admit fault. But the details for a fix had to be hashed out, leaving merchants nervous that they would be without parking heading into the holiday shopping season.

“As you knew, we really blew it. They needed the parking and I understood that,” Johnson said. “Any time we do anything to modify, adjust and remove parking supply on the street, we really need to work with the business owners and people to make sure we’ve notified them and understand the impact.”

Public Works officials converted several of the spaces on Victory north of Alameda to 30-minute zones.

And all but one of the redlined parking spaces was restored after crews curtailed the 120-foot-long turn lanes to 75 feet.

Most of those spaces were converted from two-hour to 30-minute zones, and Valencia Avenue, which has unrestricted and two-hour parking, was also amended to accommodate more customers. The conversion cost the city about $3,000, officials said.

Lack of parking in the area, exacerbated by a truck-rental facility teeming with day laborers who park their vehicles on neighboring blocks, threatened Bergstrom’s business and dragged down the value of his 911 S. Victory Blvd. storefront property, he said.

“If it wasn’t restored, we considered moving out,” he said.

Despite the fix, a pair of business owners said they’re still unhappy. Two years ago, brothers Harry and George Ipchyan said they paid $575,000 for their property and spent countless hours improving it.

Even after the city restored most of the parking, the curb remains redlined directly in front of their home improvement office.

“Everybody got what they wanted, and I got screwed,” George Ipchyan said Friday. “We’re trying to stick around. It’s going to be tough.”


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