As you drive down Fountain Avenue in the heart of LA’s popular Silverlake neighborhood, there are now plenty of open meters and plenty of parking spots on residential streets.
Just a month ago, many of the spots were taken by Porsches and Ferraris, leaving residents and customers of some businesses with no place to park.
“The entire neighborhood looks like night and day compared to the past years. It’s so much easier to park now,” says Silverlake resident Brian Behrend.
“What changed is that the NBC4 I-Team got involved,” he added.
In fact, residents like Brian Behrend had been complaining to city officials for over twenty years, about Hi Tech Automotive, a high-end repair shop that was monopolizing street parking in Silverlake with its customers’ Porsches, Ferraris, and Maseratis.
It’s a violation of LA’s Municipal code for car repair shops to park or store customers cars on city streets while they’re waiting to be serviced.
The city cited Hi Tech for the violation–in 2002, 2006, 2007, 2014, and 2017–but never fined them or forced them to stop monopolizing street parking, so the repair shop continued to do it.
In February, frustrated residents like Brian Behrend emailed the NBC4 I-Team, saying “Please help our neighborhood. The city can’t or won’t help us.”
So the I-Team questioned city officials–including City Attorney Mike Feuer–about the city’s lack of enforcement.
“In this case, this has taken too long,” Feuer told the I-Team in March.
The day after an I-Team report on March 14, the City Attorney filed misdemeanor criminal charges against the owners of Hi Tech Auto.
On Wednesday, Hi Tech’s owners were scheduled to be arraigned in LA Superior Court on the charges, but the arraignment was continued to May 31.
More importantly, since the I-Team’s March report, Hi Tech has stopped parking customers’ cars on the streets, freeing up parking spots for residents and customers of nearby businesses.
“The I-Team team was fantastic. They came down, saw the problem, knew the right people to talk to at City Hall, and got the results that we’ve been hoping to get for the last 20 years,” Behrend said.
The I-Team approached Hi Tech’s owner Koko Bakchajian for comment. He got in a Range Rover and drove away without commenting.