It is a truth universally acknowledged that Los Angeles is home to the worst traffic in the world. In 2016, L.A. area drivers spent approximately 104 hours in traffic per year, more than residents of any other place on planet Earth.
But did you know that Angelenos spend almost as much time looking for a parking place?
A recently published report by Inrix, a transportation analytics company, found that an average Angeleno spends 84 hours a year looking for a parking spot. That’s right, you spend one week a year either stuck in traffic or looking for parking.
What does this ongoing search for parking mean for you and for our region? In addition to our ever-diminishing quality of life, there is a real world cost of approximately $1,785 per driver per year. That’s a total cost of $3.7 billion per year for Los Angeles in wasted time, fuel and emissions.
Suppose, however, you’ve found a long-sought after parking spot and you feed the meter. One of two scenarios is likely to play out: you overpay to make sure you have enough time or you underpay and get a ticket. In L.A., overly cautious drivers give the city $796 million a year in meter overpayment, while those who prefer to tempt fate pay the city $148 million a year in parking tickets.
You get the picture. Driving around Los Angeles is not only a nightmare, but a costly one for drivers, the city and local businesses. The recent passage of Measure M, a half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements, will go a long way towards alleviating our traffic woes. The San Fernando Valley in particular, which has historically been overlooked, will finally get its fair share of infrastructure improvement investments. Coupled with new funds from the state’s Road Repair and Rehabilitation Act (Senate Bill 1) we eagerly anticipate a near future where soul-crushing traffic is a thing of the past.
Getting Measure M passed was only the first hurdle in our ongoing efforts to improve transportation systems in L.A. We, the business community, must stay vigilant and hold our elected officials and civic leaders accountable to ensure that these funds are spent as the taxpayers intended: to improve public transit, our roads and our quality of life. The Metro board, for example, recently snuck in and passed a motion to redefine some of the terms in Measure M. Although VICA did not object to the specifics of the motion itself, such a process sets a bad precedent for the transparent and inclusive decision-making voters were promised.
Measure M opens up a new world of possibilities for mobility and connectivity in Los Angeles, especially the Valley. Although Measure M presents a 40-year plan for the full implementation of projects, such as building light rail along the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor or the Sepulveda Pass, opportunities exist through public-private partnerships to speed up development. The business community must continue to be engaged in Measure M implementation to not only ensure that we are a part of the decision-making process, but also to take advantage of opportunities to expedite this process.
The business community needs to hold elected officials to account, and make sure that what was promised to voters is delivered. With Measure M dollars and Road Repair and Rehabilitation Act dollars, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to seriously address our week-per-year in traffic.
Stuart Waldman is president of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, a business advocacy organization based in Van Nuys that represents employers in the San Fernando Valley at the local, state and federal levels of government.