Residents complain finding parking has become increasingly tough in many Boyle Heights areas./ Photo by Jessica Perez.

Victor Sifuentes takes his nightly trip around the block looking for parking after work with no luck.

Sifuentes, 45, is a life-long Boyle Heights resident who lives on the corner of Spence and Beswick streets just a couple of blocks away from where he grew up.

At 11 p.m., both streets had cars parked in every legal spot””not an uncommon occurrence in this neighborhood.

“If you come home later than eight o’clock around here, you might as well forget it,” said Sifuentes, a warehouse supervisor. “I work the swing-shift so by the time I get home, every spot is taken. It didn’t used to be like this before.”

Sifuentes refers to the ‘70s, and ‘80s when many people in the neighborhood owned and lived in their homes. But it’s not the same picture these days.

“Today, it seems that there are two to three families living on one property and each family has at least two cars,” said Sifuentes.

Sifuentes’ observations may have some ground. According to the Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC), a local ownership advocacy group, only 11 percent of Boyle Heights residents own their home, as compared to 39 percent for the rest of Los Angeles. And with over 16,000 persons per square mile, it is among the most densely populated neighborhoods in the city.

Although data shows Boyle Heights has a rate of about 4 to 5 people per household, it’s hard to tell how many renters are crowded into single-family homes, since a number of them may live in unpermitted units. This can lead to a surplus of cars on the street, creating a tough parking situation for residents.

Fermin Vega, 88, is also a long-time resident of the neighborhood and has a problem with the number of people and cars near his home today.

“I have a driveway to use, but some of these people who live here illegally park wherever they please,” said Vega. “They always park so close to my driveway entrance that I’m afraid I’m going to hit one someday.”

Vega has lived in Boyle Heights for more than 53 years and can remember a time when the neighborhood had available parking for its residents. But now, Vega and Sifuentes notice people are either converting their garages or just renting them as is.

“I can remember when only one family lived in one house. I can go down the street, one-by-one, and tell you who is renting rooms, sheds and garages illegally in this neighborhood. It’s very sad to see,” said Vega.

There are times when vehicles block Vega’s driveway altogether, he says, causing him to jump a curb or drive over his lawn to get into his driveway.
He blames this on absentee owners.

“I think people who own around here just use their homes for rental income, and the more income, the better,” said Vega.

Even though he’s almost 90 years old, Vega has a remarkable memory and can recite past owners for nearly all the homes on the block, but that has changed today.

“I don’t know who lives here anymore. There are strange cars and strange people pulling up in front of my house at all hours. I no longer know who my neighbors are,” said Vega.
Sifuentes is frustrated about the city not doing anything about the problem.

He says that the only way to do something about someone who has blocked his driveway is to report it the Metropolitan Transit Authority.

“They will come out and either ticket the car, or tow it, that’s not the problem. The problem is that the owner of the vehicle will know that I called the MTA, and now I’ve made a new enemy.”

“I don’t need that in my life,” said Sifuentes.

Vega probably expressed his frustrations best.

“I guess they just figure that this is Boyle Heights and no one cares about the community enough to do something about the problem,’ said Vega.

Do you think Boyle Heights has a problem with overcrowding? What do you think should be done? Share your thoughts with us for a deeper story on this topic.

Gus Ugalde is a print journalist and Boyle Heights native. He is a graduate of both Salesian High School and East Los Angeles College. With writing as his passion, he has had over 500 stories published at several publications throughout Southern California.

9 Responses

  1. Avatar
    Manuel Alvarado

    I don’t agree with everything this article has to say. It’s very biased and one-sided. The writer does not share that there are lots of families who don’t own cars in Boyle Heights. I a lot of these families take public transportation. In addition, MTA is not the agency you would call. It would actually be Parking Enforcement which is thru Los Angeles Dept. of Transportation (LADOT). It would really be nice to see the other side to this supposedly, concerned issue.

  2. Avatar

    I moved to Boyle Heights last year and I think that is very apparent that the main culprit is the renting and I would say overcrowding of certain buildings in the area. Houses with 2 or 3 families as well as studio or one bedroom apartments with 1 or two families, and they are usually very large families.

  3. Avatar

    Homeowners and renters have parking in their driveways and garages. Neither own the street.

    Do renters cause parking problems?
    Of course.

    What would be fair?
    Metering every street space, 24×7.

  4. Avatar
    BH Citizen

    There was a couple who owned their home and when they moved they rented to a group of three families. Each of these families have trucks that they haul trash and metal in (unregistered companies that pay no tax) plus they have personal vehicles. This comprises over 7 parking spaces (the trucks are large) for a single home. There is person on Matthews near Roosevelt that takes up multiple spots with old cars. What would be fair is to stop absentee landlords from over renting their properties (there are laws against it), makie the streets permit only and stop poverty developers from continuing to build multi-unit structures.

  5. Avatar

    This article is a sorry attempt at providing cover-fire for the small group of homeowners in the community who are hell-bent on eradicating folks that make up 80% of the Boyle Heights population – low income communities of color. face it.

    LA is a community with more than 3/4 of its population renting. Home owners DO NOT OWN THE STREET. LADOT should address the issue with parking meters, and work with MTA to encourage more transit usage. More than 70% of renters in BH don’t own a car. We all have to survive and improve our built environment. I understand the frustration residents have with the minimal residential parking, but blaming the problem on one group because of their socio-economic status is laughable. I mean, seriously. WOW.

  6. Avatar
    eastside migrant

    Yes,I too was raised in East Los one block east of Indiana st.Most residents lived without iron bars on windows nor had their property fenced-off. I still work on the Eastside and as part my job I visit homes. I’m amazed to see how congested it has become since I migrated in 1982. I cover both the city and county Eastside. How are we suppose to prepare our youth for some living in these horrid conditions.

  7. Avatar

    I live in a house in Boyle Heights on Cummings St. and parking is a frustrating topic in my neighborhood. I choose to take the high road and not act like i own the streets unlike most of my neighbors. I’d much rather have a good day and not get worked up about something i cannot control. I dont have a driveway in my home so its an everyday battle to find parking close to my home.I have gotten so many parking tickets because i have to park at meters sometimes and if im not up by 7:59 AM i will have a ticket! Most of my neighbors have driveways and plenty of space to park on their properties, but refuse to do it. Instead lots of them like to battle with others for parking on the street and complain about it when they could avoid all the drama & help out their fellow neighbors by parking in their back and front driveways.
    I have also noticed that so many of the renters on my block have way too many cars and kids per household.( the family across from me live in a 1 bedroom home with 5 children from ages 2-14. The father had up to 5 cars at one time) I think We need PERMIT PARKING ZONES. There Should be a limit of vehicles permitted per household which i think will urge tenants to be more respectable about parking and over crowding our community with cars that hog up community space. i think it would also do a good job of bringing the area more order and keep it cleaner by not having people that live no where near me,park and store their vehicles on my block for days/weeks at a time. I am also not a big fan of the solicitors who leave cards and flyers on the cars and homes that end up on the street floors and our yards.
    Hopefully we can get this parking situation under control so we can enjoy all the positive changes and restoration in this eclectic little barrio of ours. what do u guys think?


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