Northgate mall to study green parking practices

Macerich Co., the owner of the newly redeveloped Northgate mall, is taking another look at its green parking practices.
macherich20100226__27northgate.jpgHoping to become California's first regional mall to be LEED certified, officials have reserved 154 parking spaces, or 5 percent of the mall's 3,100 spaces, for "low-emitting fuel-efficient vehicles."

Doing so helps the mall with its plan to earn Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green building certification status, awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council.

A nine-page list of low-emitting vehicles, determined by the council, is available at the mall's guest services kiosk and at the management office, mall representatives said. The list includes hundreds of makes, years and models, everything from electric and hybrid vehicles manufactured in 2000 to dozens of compact models built in 2010.

The mall says it encourages only people driving low-emitting vehicles to use the spaces, but it does not have an enforcement policy.

However, the company has received several complaints about the specially designated spaces, and is still evaluating the program, said spokesman Ryan Williams.

"We're really going to fine-tune the layout of the spaces," he said. "It's not meant to be preferential treatment. We don't want it to be perceived that way."

Patricia McEntee is among those unhappy with the spaces. The Fairfax resident was at Macy's last week when she tried to park close to the entrance to help her friend, who has health problems. All
she could find were low-emission-only parking spaces.

"I was infuriated," she said. "They were all marked. It just annoyed me that you have to be politically correct to get close.

"I live in Fairfax - I'm so sick of green I could scream," she said. "I think when it comes down to what kind of car you have that's getting pretty snotty."

Built in 1965, the 725,000-square-foot remodeled mall, unveiled in November, has undergone a $75 million redesign based on being green to update its look.

Features added toward earning the LEED status include new HVAC units, low-flow, automated and recycled water in the restrooms, energy-efficient lighting and use of natural light, and drought-resistant and local flora landscaping.
Macerich Co.
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