By Mary O’KEEFE
The issue of big rigs parked on the overpasses and throughout the unincorporated area of Los Angeles County La Crescenta will be discussed at tonight’s Crescenta Valley Town Council meeting. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. and is held at the La Crescenta Library, 2809 Foothill Blvd. in La Crescenta in the community room.
This is not the first time the issue of big rigs has been raised. Councilmember Harry Leon has pointed out the big rig parking practices on several occasions, but recently the issue has been getting more attention. This is in part because of the increased number of trucks, the locations where they are parked and the extended length of time that they are parked.
“We are not talking about [truck drivers] who are driving on the freeway and are pulling over to sleep,” said Councilmember Robbyn Battles. “These [big rigs] are on the streets for four or five days, sometimes more.”
Many of the big rigs are parked for several days in various locations that include in front of churches and businesses along Foothill Boulevard and on overpasses from Pennsylvania to Rosemont avenues. The big rig on Rosemont Avenue that is covered with graffiti (above) has been parked for three days as of press time. The graffiti that is spray-painted on the side is from a tagging crew outside the area, according to law enforcement.
CVTC conducted an online survey concerning the issue. The results were overwhelmingly against long-term big rig parking in the area. Several comments heard from residents in both the unincorporated area and far north Glendale included problems with the parking and safety issues.
After a recent CVW article on big rigs, initial online comments to the paper were against community members who opposed the big rigs’ parking. Several people thought it was wrong to stop drivers from parking if they needed to rest; other comments stereotyped community members as overprotective parents indulging their children, referencing the parking on Ramsdell Avenue next to CV High School. Most pointed out that the residents who complained depended on the merchandise that is moved by big rigs.
Battles takes issue with those comments.
“The thing I want to be clear about is I do not want to impede someone’s business, but just like other businesses, we have rules,” she said. “Parking the big rigs on local streets for days at a time affects us all.”
Comments that were later made on both the CVW and CVTC websites stated concerns about the parking on Ramsdell Avenue near CVHS. The traffic is congested without big rigs and the students have limited parking. Also, several students walk to school where parked big rigs impede traffic sightlines.
Finding a safe place to park a big rig has been a problem for truck drivers for many years. Safe places to pull over for drivers to get rest have been difficult to find for many.
Knowing the challenges drivers face in finding a place to park their rig, a 20-year-old trucking business – DTL Transport in Fresno – decided to do something.
“We opened in March 2013 and it has been very successful,” said Jazz Sidhu, CFO of the company. “We [offered] 152 spaces [where trucks can park] that have been rented on a monthly basis. We have about nine left.”
More and more cities are restricting parking, including Glendale and La Cañada, so drivers are finding fewer streets they can park on.
But there is also a question of safety.
“It wasn’t just a place to park,” Sidhu said. “It was a safe place [to park].” DTL found that drivers parked in locations where trucks would be vandalized.
Sidhu pointed out that drivers are responsible for their cargo. If they park on the street or even in front of their own homes, he said, and their cargo is stolen, many insurance companies will not cover the items because they had not parked in a secure area.
“I did a lot of research before [opening the parking facility],” he said.
The DTL parking lot has security cameras throughout the seven-acre lot and security guards during the night.
Leon’s worry is the increased parking along city streets.
“The big rigs used to park in the parking lot of the UA Theater in La Cañada and on Verdugo Road next to the hospital,” he said. “La Cañada [passed] restrictions and started ticketing the overnight parking.”
Glendale has parking restrictions that are enforced, so that leaves La Crescenta stuck in the middle.
“I am concerned that if we don’t do something now and the 710 freeway opens up, we are going to become a parking lot,” Leon said.
He echoed Battles’ point that the council, and the community as a whole, is not against drivers pulling over to sleep or truckers who are transporting goods that are needed. It’s when the rigs are parked for days, sometimes for a week, which concerns them.
“I am not against truckers,” Leon said. “But there is a truck stop in Sylmar where they can store their [big rig] for $150 a month.”
He said there are other parking lots that, for a fee, would provide an option for the trucks to park.
Representatives from Los Angeles County Public Works and law enforcement are expected to be at the CVTC meeting tonight. The council invites the public to attend and share their comments, concerns and any suggestions of solutions to this big rig long-term parking problem.
CV Town Youth Council begins at 6 p.m.; CVTC begins at 7 p.m.