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The valet system without the valet: West Hollywood's new automated parking garage

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West Hollywood is bringing the West Coast its first automated parking garage. Think of it as a valet — without the actual valet.

Angelenos love their cars, but parking them can be a pain. There is just not enough space in some neighborhoods.

The city of West Hollywood, however, may have a solution. "As you know West Hollywood is a very very popular city, so parking has always been a challenge," says Mayor Lauren Meister. "We were looking for ways to get the most bang for our buck and what we did was replace surface parking lot spaces with 200 spaces."

She is talking about the city's brand new automated parking garage, which is attached to City Hall, on Santa Monica Boulevard. 

Automated Garage and Community Plaza at West Hollywood City Hall
Via West Hollywood City Flickr
Automated Garage and Community Plaza at West Hollywood City Hall

The innovative new garage removes the nuisance of driving around looking for parking--just pull your car into one of the small garages and the automated system does the rest.

WeHo Garage demo video

Take Two's A Martinez went to test it out for himself. His guide was Yair Goldberg, CEO of Unitronics, the company behind the robotics and technology in the garage.

Interview Highlights

A play-by-play of using the garage:

"As you're pulling in there are green arrows that indicate the availabilities of the bays, so right now we're seeing two bays that are available for entry and two that are available for retrieval...and you just pull in, in front of the bay. At this point the system detects that the car is in front of the bay, the door opens up and...if you watch the screen this shows you your car relative to the rectangle...and that's it. We're done."

What happens to the car once the door closes?

"At that point, a combination of horizontal and vertical shuttles and lifts load the vehicle off the tires, the same way a tow truck does, and move it horizontally and vertically to the parking position, very similar to a warehouse. We touch the car only once, we load it in the bay and the same mechanism is holding the car up until it's being parked on the slab."

How is this parking structure a greener solution?

"In many ways, first and foremost is the fact that nobody's driving around looking for a parking space. In this case, a study has been made that this structure is the equivalent in eliminating 92 cars over an entire year, driving around and emitting into the environment. Or the equivalent of planting 67,000 trees."

The city of West Hollywood is having a grand opening celebration Tuesday, May 24th from 5-8 p.m. There'll be snacks, music and more. The garage officially opens for parking June 1st.

To hear the full segment, click the blue play button above. 

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