Long Beach could soon make significant changes to parking on Second Street as the city’s Public Works department tries to improve traffic flow, add ADA-compliant spaces and provide more room for delivery trucks to safely unload goods

The proposal, which could be rolled out by the summer, is already getting pushback from some residents who worried the changes would drive more people to park in nearby residential neighborhoods.

The proposal would repurpose as many as 54 of the 127 two-hour metered parking spaces on the busy corridor, according to Paul Van Dyk, the city’s traffic engineer, who presented the changes to the Belmont Shore Parking and Business Improvement Area Advisory Commission Thursday morning

Van Dyk said 28 of those spaces could be converted to more short-term parking with a 24-minute limit, and the equivalent of 28 other spaces would be made into new loading zones for trucks so they don’t block bus stops or create other hazards when they make deliveries.

Another 15 spaces on adjacent side streets would be painted as blue zones to help accommodate people with disabilities. According to Van Dyk, ADA guidelines say there should be one blue-zone space for every 25 parking stalls and Second Street currently has zero.

A screenshot of the proposed parking layout from Livingston Drive to Nieto Avenue on Second Street that was presented to the Belmont Shore Parking and Business Improvement Area Advisory Commission Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024.

Van Dyk said the proposed changes would “provide more predictability and provide conditions where people can expect to find a convenient space when they arrive, pick something up or drop something off.”

The changes, which would affect parking between Livingston Drive and Bay Shore Avenue, drew criticism and questions from residents and commissioners.

Chris Grodach, a resident in the neighborhood, said everyone knows that parking in Belmont Shore is awful and that the proposed changes might make it worse in residential areas.

“My issue is that people are parking in front of our homes and all these solutions are only going to increase that,” Grodach said. “We’re part of this process, too, and I don’t feel like we’re being considered at all.”

Brian Cochrane, a member of the Belmont Shore Residents Association and co-founder of the Parking Not Parklets group that has opposed businesses applying for outdoor dining installations in the area, said he didn’t think the changes should move forward without first assessing how they would affect residents’ ability to park near their homes.

He questioned the results of a survey that found most vehicles were parked for less than two hours and said that the bars in the area contribute to long-term parkers who can take up space for several hours.

“Every time I walk by a place with a TV and a sporting event going on … those games last three-plus hours and those patrons don’t just go there and say ‘I’m done’ after having an app and a beer and go home. They stay for the duration,” Cochrane said.

A screenshot of the proposed parking layout from Nieto Avenue to Bay Shore Avenue on Second Street that was presented to the Belmont Shore Parking and Business Improvement Area Advisory Commission Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024.

The proposed changes were based on a survey performed by Public Works last summer that looked at how many spots on average were occupied, for how long, and how many illegally parked vehicles there were in the area.

The two-week survey found that the highest amount of illegally parked vehicles were found on Friday nights and delivery trucks typically were parked illegally during weekday mornings.

While the study did account for parklets that have already been approved and others in the pipeline, Van Dyk said that changes to the parking layout in Belmont Shore wouldn’t necessarily preclude a business from applying for one in the future because the layout could be moved around with relative ease.

The addition of short-term 24-minute spots could help with circulation of vehicles, Van Dyk said, while the new loading zones, which would be reserved for trucks from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., could help keep trucks out of alleys and allow buses to safely operate while deliveries are being made.

The proposed changes are not final, but they will not require a City Council vote, and Van Dyk said the department is hoping to move forward with a plan before the busy summer season. However, the concerns residents expressed Thursday could lead to changes before a final version is presented to the public.

“I’m scared of what might happen,” said Commissioner Aaron Tofani, who noted that parking has been an issue in the area for decades and the city should be careful about setting a “magic day” to fix it. “Once it’s in, it’s hard to change, so let’s be prudent about it.”

Van Dyk said that the department wants to be transparent about the proposal and will work to meet with the community more before it refines its plan. However, he said, unlike projects where concrete and more permanent fixtures are involved, this one mostly involves signs and paint.

“If something is really problematic, we can grey it out and change the color within a day,” Van Dyk said.

Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @JasonRuiz_LB on Twitter.