Oh, I’m sure the stores are lovely, the movie theaters state of the art and the restaurants decent.
But I won’t go because they’ve gotten rid of the free parking.
Chalk it up to my East Coast mentality. I grew up in New England, where people still know the value of a dollar, and I used to live in Philadelphia, where finding a parking space even three blocks away was cause for rejoicing. But here in California we are soft. We require what my friend Steve calls “Doris Day” parking.
It’s almost a movie cliché: It’s the late ’50s, Doris is driving her convertible though Manhattan, every hair in place, humming “Que Sera Sera,” and she finds a parking space in front of the very building she’s visiting.
Undoubtedly the filmmakers were Californians and thus could be excused for not knowing that nobody in the history of Manhattan has ever found Doris Day parking, not even Doris Day. In Los Angeles, safe, clean, close, free parking was always thought of as an entitlement.
Given this history, this being-charged-for-parking-when-you’re-already-spending-your-hard-earned-money thing should chill the blood of every Angeleno.
I refuse to visit the new Hollywood & Highland complex because its $10 parking fee is extortion. And whose idea was it to make people pay to park at Disneyland ($7 and up)? As if anyone would park there to go someplace else.
The Beverly Center makes you pay for parking no matter how much you spend or how short your stay. The city of West Hollywood’s public coffers must flow like Cosmopolitans at the Sky Bar with revenues from a restricted parking racket that is vicious in the speed of its enforcement.
Don’t get me started on valet parking. Some restaurants charge $4.50 or more for it. Some hotels require you to valet park and charge for the privilege. And if you’re leaving after an event, you might wait 20 minutes for your car.
My dentist’s office has valet parking too. It’s free — my dentist validates — but I feel horrible if I don’t tip the guy a buck after he’s repositioned my seats and mirrors and handed over my car with barely a “Thank you, sir.” The main shopping districts in Beverly Hills and Santa Monica have it about right, with municipal lots offering two hours of free daytime self-parking, with a reasonable charge thereafter. There’s a similar arrangement at the Century City Shopping Center. I say it’s “about right” because the lots often are full.
One of the few shopping areas that never charged for parking was the Farmers Market, and now, with the Grove, even that’s gone, replaced by a snarky validation system.
In L.A., free street parking usually is hardly ever more than a couple of blocks away. I have my parking areas for the Music Center, Third Street Promenade and Chinatown. I’ve even found on-street parking outside Dodger Stadium.
Don’t ask me where they are unless you’re a close friend or trusted colleague. But if you hear of any such parking near the Grove, I’d be…uhh…kind of curious.