L.A., You Stink at Parking

4 minute read

Zócalo Public Square is a magazine of ideas from Arizona State University Knowledge Enterprise.

I moved from Connecticut to Los Angeles six years ago to pursue a career as a make-up artist. I had two suitcases, and a couple thousand dollars in my pocket. I had heard horror stories about Los Angeles traffic — but I never imagined how awful the parking would be.

One night eight months ago, I drove home to my East Hollywood neighborhood after working a 12-hour day on a set. I just wanted to lug my 50-pound make-up kit inside, eat dinner, and go to sleep. I live in an apartment bulding with only street parking.

Most homes in my crowded neighborhood have multiple cars. Some are clunkers, and people often park their work trucks on the street.

On that night, I ended up driving around for three hours and still didn’t find a spot. I sat in my car and cried. I finally parked in a strip mall parking lot, hoping I wouldn’t get a ticket. Even though I went down to move my car the next morning at 6 a.m., I got a ticket anyway.

I was dumbfounded by the lack of parking, and how inconsiderate people could be. I remembered all the “pet shaming” photos I saw on the Internet—of dogs or cats after they had done something naughty, with handwritten signs like: “I eat the trash.” I wanted to raise awareness about bad parking, maybe embarrass a few people too. I launched an Instagram account, ParkingSpotShaming.

The first photo I posted was from the parking lot at my gym. When I went to leave, I realized I was blocked in because the black Prius that parked perpendicular to me didn’t pull far enough into its spot.

Those early pictures featured a repeat nemesis: a blue pick-up truck that rarely moves from in front of my apartment, only from one side of the street to the other when it’s a designated street cleaning day. It always leaves awkward amounts of space in front and behind it.

Four weeks after the launch of ParkingSpotShaming, blogs began to post about it. Now, I receive up to 50 submissions a day by email and direct message on Instagram. More come through tags on Twitter or posts on Facebook.

You will see a photo of a black sedan whose driver scraped against the side of a silver SUV, making it impossible for the passenger side doors to open.

And a photo of a Smart Car parked crooked, and spilling over onto a sidewalk. “How is this even possible?!” one commenter wrote. “It’s the #SmallestCarEver!

I’ve received pictures of Bentleys and Honda Civics. I’ve found bad parkers in the Hollywood Hills and in Westchester. And there’s a range of bad parking: creeping too close to the lines, going well over them, parking in illegal zones, and sitting in handicapped spots without permits.

I tend to get submissions from shopping centers, airports, and malls. Some Angelenos seem to have a real sense of entitlement. That may be the same reason I see so many SUVs parking in spots marked “compact.”

I don’t want someone to target a car or vandalize it, so I put emojis over the license plates. I’m particularly proud of the Range Rover with the bullseye over its plate.

ParkingSpotShaming has given me and others an outlet to share our gripes, absurdities, and wisecracks. The craziest parking I’ve seen was submitted to me, and it was a white Bentley that parked sideways taking up spots 132 and 133 at Burbank Airport.

The site is anonymous, and I often wish that I knew how to get in touch with the owner of a badly parked car right away—so I could make them move it. But since I can’t do that, I’m hoping that ParkingSpotShaming will make that person who parks his Hummer in two spots, think twice. We will find you and make fun of you. As one post on my account says, “Your parking is bad. And you should feel bad.”

Andria Farrell is a make-up artist from Connecticut living and working in Los Angeles. Her personal Instagram is @driafarr. She wrote this for Thinking L.A., a partnership of UCLA and Zócalo Public Square

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