The following article first appeared on the front page of “THE OJAI” in the Thursday, March 14, 1957 edition. “THE OJAI” is now the “Ojai Valley News”. The article appears here with their permission. The author is unknown.

–Auto Club Report–

A meager handful of Ojai citizens, including only four or five local businessmen and merchants, showed up at the Ojai Elementary school auditorium Tuesday evening for a town-hall type forum on the city’s parking problems and an extensive parking survey report compiled by the Auto Club of Southern California.

The survey, prepared after careful study of parking facilities and related problems in Ojai’s business district, was presented by Auto Club engineering and technical services director Joseph Havenner, and in brief brought out the following points:

1. Ojai, in Havenner’s opinion, is not yet ready for a parking district, such as proposed by a Chamber of Commerce Committee.
2. Ojai has an exceptionally poor street and traffic circulation setup and this must be corrected through a master plan for streets and a similar plan for installing curbs, gutters, and sidewalks in the shopping area before any actual parking program is undertaken.
3. Ojai should have a plan for controlled development of its business district, primarily to the north, and should not deviate from it.
4. Parking meters, in Havenner’s opinion, would not be practical in Ojai.
5. The rear of the Arcade district offers the best opportunities for expanded parking areas.
6. Two hour parking limits should be established in the city parking lot.
7. All possible off-street parking areas should be preserved and improved.
8. A parking committee should be established.
9. Businessmen should help police themselves and their employees on better parking habits.
10. New business buildings should be required by city law to provide certain amounts of off-street parking space.

The Auto Club survey was conducted at no charge to the city at the request of city manager J. Julien Baget last December when the question arose as to whether or not the city should participate in the C of C parking district plans.

The study was deliberately made during the pre-Christmas rush when parking facilities would be taxed to peak loads.

Careful records were made of daily usage of parking spaces, origin of cars as to whether they were local or out of town, number of parking violations, and the overall flow of traffic in the business area.

In the central shopping regions, Auto Club surveyists tabulated a total of 281 parking spaces — 198 at the curb and 83 off-street lots. Most of these were kept in use during the two day count, reaching the peak occupancy about 11 a.m. each day, and the primary demand was found to be for a short time (one hour or less) parking spaces rather than all-day or part day usage.

It was found that 67 per cent of the cars parked in the business district were registered residents of the city; 19 per cent to be Valley and county areas, and 14 per cent to outside visitors.

To the city council and planning commission officials and about 15 citizens present, Havenner emphasized that proper street alignment, continuous traffic circulation, and adequate curbs, sidewalks, and gutters were problems Ojai must solve before it tackles the actual parking situation.

“The longer you delay, the more severe the problem will get and the more its solution will cost you “, Havenner pointed out. “Your present system could not serve a greatly expanded business area because the streets are not properly aligned to handle traffic circulation.”

Illustrating the report with colored slides of Ojai traffic and various parking locations, he noted that a large potential parking area behind the Arcade buildings is not being put to use.

Havenner said he did not think Ojai would ever experience the development of major shopping centers but that business places to accommodate local needs would be ever increasing.

Asked by Lynn Rains about the parking district plans, he said that such districts are not easy to form because often the property owner is not the same person who operates a business but merely leases the site. “It can be a fair and equitable solution in some cities but I don’t think Ojai is quite ready for that kind of operation now,” Havenner added.

Summing up before a brief question and answer period. Havenner, told the small audience, “The factual findings of the study indicate that the parking problem in Ojai is not so difficult to alleviate as outward appearance would lend one to believe. The problem appears to be one of traffic management which has not kept pace with the growth of the area and the changing character of parking demand and traffic movement.

“To improve the efficiency of off-street space will require the understanding of the problems by businessmen and citizens and calls for the formation of organized leadership.

“It must be recognized that off-street facilities to be attractive to customers must be located within the block of the customer’s designation and on the same side of the street.

“Appearance is an important factor in the successful operation of off-street parking facilities. Paving and marking , cleanliness, and improvement of store access by attractive rear entrances are most important considerations.

“An immediate halt should be placed upon the establishment of new businesses without adequate provision for off-street parking needs generated by them. For the present all-day parking demand special study and local leadership must be given to locate adequate parking both off-street and at the curb in areas where this type of parking will cause a minimum blight upon the area.

“The physical obstructions caused by the arches and high curbs on the north side of Ojai avenue in the Arcade compel motorists to egress from their cars from the left side into the street, causing a traffic hazard.

“Angle parking is not advised at the curb and should be used only in low speed urban areas where parking requirements take precedence over smooth operation of through traffic.”

Havenner concluded, “Ojai’s growth had had and will continue to have serious impact on the traffic and parking problems and on the general economy of its established business district.”

During the course of the meeting he also praised Ojai’s police department for its excellent enforcement of traffic and parking regulations and commended the city for its cooperation in assisting with the survey.

A limited number of copies of the published survey in book form will be available at the city hall for merchants or others interested in the parking situation.

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