In 2016, the Los Angeles Department of City Planning issued an advisory notice seeking to tamp down on parking podiums in new high-rise developments.  Now, as above-grade parking continues to proliferate, a new advisory notice has been issued to prospective project applicants.

"As Los Angeles transitions from an auto-oriented metropolis to a more transit-oriented and pedestrian-friendly city, few design features can so easily detract from a vibrant public realm as above-grade parking," reads the notice, which which calls for new structured parking to be consistent with the core principles of the Citywide Design Guidelines

  • Pedestrian-First Design;
  • 360 Degree Design; and
  • Climate-Adapted Design.

The advisory notice urges project applicants to minimize the amount of parking provided using zoning tools such as the Transit Oriented Communities Guidelines and other methods such as automated parking to reduce the amount of physical space required.  Additionally, the notice suggests that all parking should be located below ground.

For projects that do require above-grade parking, the garage levels should be fully integrated into its design, and therefore not recognizable as parking during daytime or nighttime hours.

Above-grade parking can also be wrapped with habitable spaces to mask it from view from the surrounding street, or in the case of larger sites with multiple buildings, be isolated in a single garage wrapped by other uses. 

Additionally, garages are encouraged to use flat floor levels to facilitate a future conversion to other uses.

The new memo follows a series of contentious hearings at the City Planning Commission, in which projects were required to alter their designs to minimize the appearance of above-grade parking.

One project, a 41-story apartment tower planned at the corner of 8th and Figueroa Streets, discarded metal screening on its podium in favor of a glass curtain wall that matches the exterior of the building's trunk.

While the effect of the advisory notice remain to be seen, a more tangible fix for above-grade parking may come through the comprehensive update to the City's zoning code, which will allow for neighborhood-specific parking policies.  Concurrently, the update of the Central City and Central City East Community Plans is expected to remove parking requirements for Downtown Los Angeles.