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VIDEO: Brentwood Village’s Parking Lot Threatened By VA Master Pla

Jennifer Wenger-Turchen, owner of Jennifer Knits in Brentwood Village, is concerned for her business and the others that depend on the West L.A. VA parking lots north and south of the U.S. Post Office. Photo by Mariella Rudi.
Jennifer Wenger-Turchen, owner of Jennifer Knits in Brentwood Village, is concerned for her business and the others that depend on the West L.A. VA parking lots north and south of the U.S. Post Office. Photo by Mariella Rudi.

Brentwood Village’s parking lots flanking the Barrington Post Office may soon become an access road for the West Los Angeles Veteran Affairs campus, leaving merchants worried about the livelihood of their businesses.

“We are completely dependent on both parking lots,” said Jennifer Wenger-Turchen, owner of Jennifer Knits in Brentwood Village. “We have 110 businesses, 500 jobs, and there is nowhere to park besides meter parking.”

With anywhere between 500 and 1,000 patrons a day for Brentwood Village, Wenger-Turchen said business leaders are appealing to the VA and other federal powers to reconsider the importance of the parking lots.

“We need to work on a plan,” she said.

In the VA’s West L.A. campus preliminary master plan released Friday, Oct. 16, artist renderings and language from design firm HOK depict the campus sliced up into four zones: in-patient hospital and health care buildings; treatment services and temporary housing; permanent supportive housing units; and recreational area.

The northwest part of Zone 4 is devoid of the parking lots and a dog park previously leased by the City. Instead, it’s dedicated to recreational areas and “connections and partnerships,” including Brentwood School’s athletic complex and U.S. Post Office.

The 889-page master plan devotes several pages to “non-contributing” surface parking lots that don’t comply with legislative overlay for the revitalized veteran-focused campus. Suggestions for these lots are found under the new construction/in-fill opportunities on page 338: “New construction/in-fill is proposed for several sites that are underutilized, on the periphery of the historic district, or that have been significantly altered over time, including areas currently occupied by non-original surface parking lots.”

In renderings for vehicle access and open spaces, the primary boulevard exits north of the Post Office into Barrington Place, a 16-foot wide road, and the parking lots become recreational spaces and parkland.

“If an access road is necessary to sustain the VA, why can’t they do it south of the Post Office in the dog park where it would spill out to Barrington Avenue, which is three times the width of Barrington Place. You wouldn’t have the traffic and it would be safer,” Wenger-Turchen said. “That’s one point of view that residents could understand.”

Currently, parking fees from the 2-acre VA parking lots go to programs that benefit U.S. veterans. Shoppers get two hours free parking with merchant validation between 8 am and 5 pm. Years ago, VA job-training program workers operated the lot.

Wenger-Turchen, also a volunteer member of the Brentwood Community Council and the Brentwood Village Chamber of Commerce, envisions a solution to save the parking lots through programs and vocational training that embrace the veterans and rebrands Brentwood Village as a veteran village.

“The future of our businesses and our livelihood depend on that lot,” she said.

Tim Byk, director of Brentwood Village’s Business Improvement District and a local business owner for 30 years, is optimistic that the VA will establish a balance between the needs and wants of both the community and veteran community.

“In this instance, I support the master plan. I support the idea of creating housing for the elderly and or homeless,” Byk said. “But I also support my community as a whole, and I know that the Brentwood Village parking lot has been there for well over 70 years servicing the community, as well as every veteran that comes up to Brentwood Village.”

From the nail and hair salons and dry cleaners to the retailers and niche boutiques, Brentwood Village has a storied history with the VA, and Byk has every faith in a lasting partnership between Brentwood businesses and the VA.

“I don’t see that the VA is going to rush in and lock the gate tomorrow,” Byk said.

Representatives of the Brentwood Village are encouraging people to submit comments supporting the parking lots’ presence. 

Interested parties have until Monday, Dec. 7 to submit comments to the Federal Register at

http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=VA-2015-VACO-0001-0251.  

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