School now charging for parking to subsidize overflow spaces in Petersen lot

Forty-two students wanted spaces this year and student lot holds just 17, so all parking students will pay $750 for the year


BP Photo by Kate Orlanski

WALK: Students headed toward school this morning from the parking lot of the Petersen Automotive Museum, just south of Wilshire Boulevard where the tall building is at left. On their way, they passed Tom Bergin’s Tavern, where free parking was available last year. This year, all students who want spaces are paying $750 for a yearlong spot at either Petersen or the smaller school lot on San Vicente Boulevard.

For the first time in Shalhevet’s history, students driving their own cars to school are paying $750 for an annual parking pass, to partially cover the cost of renting out spots at the Petersen Automotive Museum, school officials announced in an email Aug. 2.

Twenty-five students will park at the Petersen Museum this year, because the lot at Tom Bergin’s tavern next door to school is no longer available and the student lot does not have enough space for everyone who drives to school.

The museum, located on the corner of Wilshire and Fairfax one-and-a-half blocks north of Shalhevet,  normally charges $16 per day, but no students will have to pay that amount. Instead, all students who received parking passes will, altogether, pay for the majority of the cost of the spaces. The school will subsidize the rest of the cost.

Especially if families are paying for it, we want to make it something that’s consistent, that makes students feel good about always having a spot.

— Mr. Weslow, Principal

Bergin’s tavern, an iconic LA pub neighboring just north of school that was closed during the day last year, last month was sold to a new ownership group which has chosen not to rent its 20 spaces to Shalhevet this year.

“We tried to work with them on striking deal similar to the situation we had previously,” said Principal Mr. Daniel Weslow. “They clearly are going in a different direction… Trying to finesse that with the timing of things — it’s the end of summer — was challenging.”

Without Bergin’s, the 17 spots in Shalhevet’s own student lot, located on the northwest corner of San Vicente and Fairfax, fell 25 spots short of the demand.

This year 42 students applied for parking spaces.  By charging everyone $750, Mr. Weslow said, all 42 will have a space and everyone will pay the same amount.

Mr. Weslow said Tom Bergin’s had also charged Shalhevet to rent its lot, and that there was not a “substantial difference” between the cost of the Bergin’s and the museum.

Instead, the new charge is due to the haste in which the decision was made last year.

Last year, he said, was the first year school offered parking after four years of construction during which no parking was offered at all.  Students parked at meters on surrounding streets — often having to leave class to refill them — or at the Petersen Museum where they paid the full price.

“Since it was the first year” after that, Mr. Weslow said,  “…and the timing of everything, we subsidized it fully for students and took care of that. But it was a significant cost and it was something that we wanted to look closely at.”

The Petersen Automotive Museum charges $16 to park in its lot for a full day, from 8 a.m to 11 p.m. If a student were to pay this cost for every school day, of which there are 110 for seniors and 131 for everyone else, it would cost $1,760 for seniors and $2,096 for everyone else.

Instead, Mr. Weslow said, all students will be paying the $750 charge, spreading the cost around.

The total amount gained from all 42 students who received parking passes is $31,500- or $1,260 per parking spot in the Peterson lot.

It is unclear whether Shalhevet received a discount on renting out the spaces.

The question of who is parking where was based on a Just Community vote held in June of 2018. At that time, the decision was to have the San Vicente lot give priority to seniors.

Mr. Weslow said he would be open to a different system of prioritizing for next year.

But some seniors prefer parking in the Peterson lot. Also, unlike last year, students will have a spot for the entire year.

“Especially if families are paying for it, we want to make it something that’s consistent, that makes students feel good about always having a spot,” the principal said, “where we know who’s parking where and what cars, from a safety perspective that’s also super helpful.”

Shalhevet’s old student lot re-opened last year after four years of construction on the new school building and the adjacent Vinz apartment complex. All 17 of its spaces have been assigned to seniors, while the remaining 25 students seniors and juniors on the second floor of the Petersen lot.

All students who received spaces will pay $750.  Mr. Weslow said the cost, in addition to partial subsidizing from the school, will cover the price of the spots.

The decision for seniors to have priority was made at a May 2018 Town Hall vote, in which the majority of students voted for “senior priority.” At the time of this poll, it was unknown how many spaces would be in the San Vicente lot.

There was also no mention of how spots would be allotted if other lots were to become available.

“We’re, at this point, staying true to what the Just Community decided,” said Mr. Weslow. “If I had my own ideas or if we discussed it as an admin team, we might come up with something different and incorporate people that live in the Valley or that are carpooling at least two to three people. But until something like that is presented, brought forward to the Just Community, in terms of priority, I’m going to stick with [senior] preference.”

Mr. Weslow said he would be open to another Town Hall discussing how spots should be allotted for the 2020-21 school year. Mr. Weslow said that he would want this decision as soon as possible.

“I would say before February or March, in preparation for the upcoming school year, would be important,” said Mr. Weslow. “It’s not something we can roll out second semester and start that process.”

Not all seniors prefer in the San Vicente lot, however, even though it is about 100 feet closer to school — 529 feet as opposed to 612 feet to the Petersen lot, according to Google Maps . Getting to the San Vicente lot requires crossing Fairfax Avenue at the busy three-way intersection which also includes Olympic Boulevard.

“Initially, I was assigned to park in the San Vicente lot,” said senior Caroline Edry. “But  having parked there last year, I know from experience that it is really crammed and hard to get out of a spot. So I traded with someone who preferred parking there for a Peterson spot.

“So far, I really enjoy parking at Peterson. I feel like it is more accessible and organized.”

Senior Elianna Kupferman was assigned to Petersen.

“It hasn’t really been an inconvenience,” said Elianna. “I like it better than the San Vicente lot. The only thing is that you need to go upstairs to get to your car but that’s about it.”

Elianna also said that while she is happy the school found additional parking, she is still annoyed about having to pay.

“Who wouldn’t be?” said Eliyanna. “Especially because it was free last year. I totally understand why we need to pay, but it is just annoying.”

Junior Hannah Polterak said parking in the Petersen lot was better than alternatives.

“I really like parking there,” said Hannah. “It’s so easy and much better than a carpool or Uber-ing. I looked around near school at the other options and Peterson is the best option.”

Junior Max Wintner said while he would rather park in the San Vicente lot, he is happy to have a space.

“It’s been mildly inconvenient to have to park there and not San Vicente.” said Max. “Otherwise it’s all the same to me.”

Last year raffles for spots among seniors and juniors were conducted quarterly with the help of then-Agenda Chair Talia Gill and Vice Chair Maya Tochner. This year, spaces will be permanent.

“Working with the two of them for 11th grade and 12th grade last year, it took significant time to do that each quarter,” said Mr. Weslow.