Thursday, January 25, 2007
Restricted Parking Returns to Site Where Instituted in 1896
By ROGER M. GRACE
It used to be that you couldn’t park in front of our building at 210 S. Spring Street. (Well, you could, but your vehicle would be bound to have been towed.) The lane nearest the building was a bus lane. But that was changed late last year. The buses were rerouted, and you can now park lawfully on our street…if you plunk coins in the meters and correctly decipher the ambiguous time-limit signs.
But just as there are parking restrictions there today, there were time limits for taking up spaces by the curb when the premises we’re now occupying were utilized by the H. Jevne Co. from 1896-1920. As I mentioned briefly last week, there was an ordinance regulating the hitching of horses, whether bearing a saddle or attached to a vehicle.
Hans Jevne, proprietor of H. Jevne Co., the city’s leading grocery store, was one of the merchants who petitioned in early 1896 for an “anti-hitching” ordinance applicable to the Spring Street area. While customers hogging parking spaces for too long a time was a concern, the major beef was with the Victorian analogue of the taxicab stand: “hacks” for hire being lined up in front of businesses. The merchants’ petition recited, in part, that hack stands “not only annoy patrons in carriages who are unable to alight where they wish to transact business, but when they remain continuously in one place, they become offensive to the general public on account of the accumulated filth and odor of the stable.”
An early version of the proposed ordinance went so far as to ban the parking of any hack in front of a building without the consent of the building’s owner.
The effort was spearheaded by the powerful Merchants’ Association—Jevne was on its executive committee—but, understandably, opposed by the “hackmen,” who also had influence.
There actually had been an ordinance in effect for 10 years creating a one-hour hitching limit in the area, but it had been generally unenforced if not overlooked. The 1896 City Council, sensing that this was a hot potato, adopted delaying tactics…referring the proposal to committee, then to a commission, debating the matter, stalling. But the merchants were insistent.
An ordinance was adopted in June, 1896 (a month before Jevne moved into his new South Spring Street quarters) applicable to “Main and Spring, from Temple to Fourth, Broadway from 150 feet north of First street to 150 feet south of Third street, and all intersecting streets between Main and Broadway, and on Second and Third street to a point 150 feet west of Broadway.” It placed certain restrictions specifically on hackmen (soon repealed) and provided that “[i]t shall be unlawful for any person having the charge or possession of any horse or beast of burden, to leave or cause to be left, any such horse or beast of burden standing hitched for a longer period than thirty minutes on any portion” of the affected area.
It was strictly enforced…at least at first. John W. Bryson Sr. had enough clout to get elected mayor in 1888, but was turned down in 1896 when he wanted permission to hitch his own horse for the entirety of each work day in front of his own building on the northwest corner of Second and Spring (later the site of the Mirror Building, now part of the Times complex).
The ordinance underwent changes, including one enacted Dec. 8, 1897, reducing the parking time to 20 minutes. The ordinance now said:
“It shall be unlawful for any person to hitch any horse, mule or other animal, or leave standing not in the immediate care of some person any carriage, buggy, wagon or other vehicle, with or without animals attached, for a longer period of time than twenty minutes upon any public street of the city of Los Angeles herein described and set forth. between the hours of 7 o’clock a.m. and 6 o’clock p.m….”
The boundaries of the affected area were slightly enlarged; it now applied to Spring Street from Temple to Sixth Street.
Note that under that ordinance—applying to vehicles “with or without animals attached”—the city implicitly applied parking restrictions in the downtown area to automobiles. The Los Angeles Times’s edition of Feb. 25, 1904 contains this item:
“The first auto-drivers to fall under the ban of the ordinance making it an offense to stand on the street for a longer period than twenty minutes were before Justice Chambers yesterday. A. R. Maurice and J. F. Russell were the two victims and they were fined $2 each. Owners of the horseless rig have been deluding themselves into the belief that the ordinance was aimed at the horse, and not at the vehicle to which he was hitched, but this warning will put a whole lot of them wise on that subject.”
By 1907, an ordinance made express reference to automobiles and set a 40-minute parking limit for them in the affected area.
Copyright 2007, Metropolitan News Company