Van Nuys: City of Parking Lots


Between Oxnard and Vanowen, on either side of Van Nuys Bl. fully 75% of the land is taken up, not by buildings, but parking lots.

Near Oxnard, on both sides of the Busway, parking lots are used mostly for storage of unsold, new cars from nearby Keyes dealerships.

Along the civic center, there are enormously underused concrete parking lots, several stories high, built in the 1960s.

Civic Center Parking

Moving north, beyond Vanowen, near Kittridge, there are wide open parking lots behind shuttered businesses where perhaps 25% of the spaces available are used for cars.

Think about these parking lots when people complain that Van Nuys is too crowded, that we don’t have room for more apartments, that we don’t have space to house homeless persons, that we cannot find room for parks, that we simply don’t have land for urban gardens or nature spaces.

Think about these parking lots, see them in your head, when people complain that there is nowhere to park, that we spend too much time in traffic, that our air quality is low, that we are baking in a hot area where there are not enough trees even as the Earth warms.

2 thoughts on “Van Nuys: City of Parking Lots

  1. LA has a simple problem that it doesn’t want to solve. Van Nuys in particular is halfway between two urban forms and the population is viciously fighting itself while trapped in the intermediate stage – no longer caterpillar, not yet butterfly.

    Partly it wants to preserve the old auto oriented suburbia of the 1950s. The quiet tree lined residential streets, the tidy lawns, the single family tract homes and backyard swimming pools. That’s a good life. But unless several million people leave LA not everyone can live that way. The territory is built out. And trapping the subdivisions in amber means the limited supply will be rationed by insanely high prices – good for existing property owners, but terrible for the city as a whole.

    And partly LA wants to densify and become a collection of rich urban neighborhoods of lively walkable city streets, sidewalk cafes, quirky mom and pop shops, charming little pocket parks, and genuinely useful transit. A SoCal version of Paris or Barcelona perhaps.

    LA is cultivating the worst of both worlds. Incredibly expensive real estate hampered by growth limits, reluctant infill density without the accompanying urbanism, and transit that travels from one big box store parking lot to another vacant lifeless suburban wasteland. Shrug. LA is getting what the population deserves. Don’t like it? Vote with your feet.

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  2. …and think of all the business that remain shuttered because in order to reopen them as something new, the parking requirements are prohibitive. For example that restaurant we were trying to open, but then found out we had to come up with 14 parking spaces out of thin air. ON VAN NUYS BLVD! –Jennifer Febre, MacLeod Ale Brewing Co.

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