The parking situation in Belmont Shore is so bad, the city of Long Beach is considering buying out a local homeowner, knocking down the house and turning the land into a mini-parking lot.
Residents often circle the neighborhood, block by block, in search of a parking spot and consider themselves lucky to find one close to home.
It became so bad 25 years ago, businesses agreed to tax themselves to drum up parking spots, and the city formed a neighborhood parking commission to tackle the problem, handing over local parking meter revenue to help pay for a solution.
Belmont Shore is a densely packed, 14-block stretch centered on 2nd Street, where residents tangle with visitors drawn to the area’s popular bars and shops.
But not everyone in the community is happy with the prospect of losing even one neighbor to make room for parking. Nearly 30 years ago, a local bank bought up a neighboring house to turn it into a parking lot for its customers, but the community protest was so fierce that it took nearly a decade for the parking spots -- all nine of them -- to be unchained.
Now the residents, weary veterans of the parking wars, are ready to do battle against what they deem another intrusion into the upscale community.
“It destroys the whole ambience of the shore,” says Melinda Cotton, a resident of 30 years who lives eight blocks from the proposed mini parking lot, located behind Simmzy’s, a popular burger and beer joint.
More and more, says Cotton, her neighborhood is becoming a party destination.
“That was not what Belmont Shore was supposed to be.”
Built in the 1920s when the famous Red Car rail line was just blocks away, many of the homes lack usable garages, and streets are poorly planned for parking.
As new restaurants and bars have had booming success in recent years, the trickle of mom-and-pop store customers has been replaced with dinnertime crowds and late-night revelers.
Residents who want preferential parking permits have been told the issue is unlikely to pass muster with the Coastal Commission’s beach access restrictions.