Garden Grove

Parking jams and brown lawns

TRAFFIC JAMS can be on the street where you live and try to park (Shutterstock).

By Jim Tortolano

What to do about not enough parking and too many brown – or paved-over – lawns brought out a variety of viewpoints at Tuesday’s meeting of the Garden Grove City Council.

The council on a 7-0 vote approved a motion by George Brietigam (District 1) to direct city staff to examine issues and possible solutions for residential areas where on-street parking is increasingly rare and front yards that don’t meet city codes are increasingly common.

“There are a lot of disruptive changes going on,” said Mayor Steve Jones. “How do you preserve our single family neighborhoods?” He wondered if it was possible to address different standards for different areas.

The questions raised at the meeting were sparked by a property owner who – at a recent meeting – complained that she was facing action from the city’s code enforcement section for paving over the front lawn there to provide more off-street parking for the tenants of the property.

At the same time, the city council will soon be addressing proposed changes to the city general plan and zoning regulations that were recently approved – on a 4-3 vote – by the planning commission to potentially accommodate over 19,000 new housing units, as mandated by the state’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment.

Councilmember Phat Bui (District 4) said he’s received many complaints from residents about parking congestion. “It’s becoming a nightmare for many of them.”

Turning to the issue of brown lawns, he claimed – twice – that during the drought in 2015, it was unlawful to water your lawns, and that today’s landscaping woes were a consequence of that.
“It was never said you couldn’t water your lawn forever and ever, amen,” replied Councillmember Stephanie Klopfenstein. Another councilmember noted that the anti-drought measures did not ban lawn watering but regulated how it was done and how often.

Councilmember John O’Neill (District 2) defended the current rules. “I’d like to uphold the current municipal code,” he said, referring to a rule that 50 percent of a single family home lot be landscaped. “There are reasons for the codes.”

Mayor Pro Tem Kim Nguyen, referring to the impact of the RHNA and other state laws regarding land use said, “Garden Grove is going to change drastically.” She suggested that the city look at what other nearby communities are doing to address similar concerns.

Among the ideas that surfaced during the council discussion were:

  • the use of permit parking to keep parked cars from one area spilling over into another;
  • the creation of transition zones where landscaping and parking rules might be different than those in adjacent single-family home neighborhoods;
  • construction of public parking structures;
  • coping with diminished green space by expanding park space, including innovative approaches such as rooftop gardens and green space for higher-density buildings.

City Manager Scott Stiles told the council that Garden Grove had recently received a $325,000 grant from the Southern California Association of Governments to study parking issues, which could assist in the efforts of city staff to study and make recommendations on the issues raised at Tuesday’s meeting.



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