Amid frustration and surprise, metered parking is coming to Long Beach’s Retro Row

After years of discussion and planning, metered parking will hit the east-west stretch of Fourth Street between Temple and Hermosa avenues, along with a handful of north-south streets in that area, on Nov. 15.

Set to affect some 197 parking spots, parking will be limited to three hours from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily with payment of $1 per hour, according to Long Beach Public Works—but it apparently doesn’t entirely reflect what the business community of Retro Row was seeking nor were residents properly notified of the changes in the parking-impacted neighborhood.

“They came out of nowhere,” said resident Oscar Cancio. “None of us received any notification—nothing on social media, no flyers, nothing on the city newsletter.”

Another resident, Eileen Hunter, discovered via text from her angry husband as the city began installing a pay station outside their home on Fourth Street between Wisconsin Avenue and Carroll Park East.

“We found out when they installed a pay station in front of our window—like, directly in front of our window,” Hunter said. “We feel like it’s going to be an even further hassle for friends visiting us.”

The plan for the parking, passed last November by the city council, initially called for a two-hour limit and was framed as a partnership between the city and the Fourth Street business improvement district.

“We anticipate that introduction of these paid parking spots will promote parking turnover for customers and increase revenue for the area businesses, as is typical in other metered business zones,” said Jennifer Carey of Public Works. “Revenue for these meters will initially be used to cover the costs for installation, after that, 50% of meter revenue will go to the Fourth Street Business Improvement District to specifically be used for area infrastructure improvements and business promotion efforts. The other 50% will go to the City’s general fund.”

However, according to Jennifer Hill, current president for the Fourth Street business improvement district, much of their plans were not incorporated into the final layout of the parking zone. The group spent a portion of time last year walking along the business corridor and identifying what would be “ideal for not only Fourth Street but the community as a whole, especially residents who depend on parking.

“We created a map of what would be ideal for the neighborhood and submitted that to the city but it wasn’t until this year that we learned our plans were ultimately not being considered,” Hill said. “We decided to reach out to Public Works to see if residents could have a parking pass that would allow them to bypass the meters; Public Works told us it was not possible.”

A mock-up of the postcard to be distributed along Retro Row today, Oct. 30, 2019. Courtesy of Long Beach Public Works.

While Hill was quick to recognize that Public Works has been a key partner for the neighborhood’s daily operations, she  emphasized that the BID was intent on not affecting the lives of residents.

“It wasn’t, by any measure, our intent to cause harm or affect the quality of life of the residents who support and live around Fourth Street,” Hill said. “This zone isn’t reflective of Fourth Street; it’s reflective of what the city thinks is best.”

Public Works will be distributing fliers today in order to begin outreach to residents.

“We are working with the Fourth Street BID for business and resident outreach,” said Carey. “The posters and postcards are being distributed in the area today.”

Brian Addison is a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or on social media at FacebookTwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn.

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Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 16 nominations and two additional wins for Best Political Commentary for his work at KCET and Best Blog for Longbeachize, a section of the Long Beach Post. Brian currently serves as a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post.