Phoenicia Restaurant in Glendale

Phoenicia Restaurant in Glendale, owned by a city commissioner, is at the center of a controversy over permitted parking with residents on Lexington Drive. (Tim Berger / Staff Photographer )

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Residents on a stretch of Lexington Avenue in the downtown area are seeking permit parking following the expansion of a nearby popular Lebanese restaurant, but the Glendale City Council on Tuesday held off voting on the issue until sometime next month.

Last year, a petition was submitted to make the 300 block of Lexington 24-hour permit parking. Phoenicia restaurant is located on that block at the intersection with Central Avenue.

Some residents living in the area grew concerned about more patrons potentially clogging the street with additional cars because the eatery added a new indoor-outdoor room.

The restaurant's owner, Ara Kalfayan, does offer valet parking for his patrons.

In March, the city's Transportation and Parking Commission suggested that Lexington's current two-hour restriction on parking be expanded from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. as a deterrent to drivers leaving their cars on the street for extended periods of time.

But a small group of residents, including Rima Hagopian, told council members that parking enforcement officers stop patrolling the area around 7 p.m., and she has to call the police herself to report vehicles. When officers show up, they have to mark a car's tire and wait another two hours before issuing a citation, she said.

"It means [people] can park there at 5:30 p.m. and stay there the entire night because there is no enforcement," Hagopian said.

Hagopian initially requested 24-hour permit parking, but is now asking for permit parking between 3 p.m. and 2 a.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. to2 a.m. on weekends. She said parking during midday is not an issue and open parking during that time would be beneficial to businesses and offices in the neighborhood.

But Public Works Director Roubik Golanian was concerned about issuing parking permits because there are 120 apartment units and 10 single-family homes along Lexington between Central and Columbus Avenue and only 58 spaces.

According to a study conducted in June, 76% of those spaces were occupied between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., while 93% of them were taken from 6 to 10 p.m.,.

Councilman Ara Najarian said pursuing permit parking would mean many residents would be left with nowhere to park because there aren't enough spaces to go around.

"How about we just hold a raffle … is that a fair solution?" He said. "The problem is that there are too many apartments there with inadequate parking."

Najarian said he'd be willing to follow the Transportation and Parking Commission's recommendation for the time being.

Councilman Dave Weaver shared similar sentiments, saying residents who wouldn't be able to find parking on Lexington would try to find spots on neighboring streets, a move that would eventually push people living in surrounding areas to start asking for permit parking.

Councilwoman Paula Devine was in favor of testing out the idea of parking permits because residents so far have had to take the issue into their own hands.

"There's no enforcement there unless [residents] call," she said. "Then you're putting the onus on the neighbors, and that's totally unfair."

Although typical enforcement hours end around 7 p.m. in that area, parking officers could sporadically be deployed to ensure the two-hour restriction is being followed if it was extended to 10 p.m., said City Manager Scott Ochoa.

"It would just make people think twice that you could get a ticket," Ochoa said.

Mayor Zareh Sinanyan said he was not ready to vote on the matter Tuesday night and would rather wait until Councilwoman Laura Friedman, who was absent, returns.

The item is scheduled to be considered the next time there will be a full council quorum sometime in September.