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The Venice Beat: Overnight Parking Appeals Denied:

The controversy regarding overnight parking in Venice and persons living in their vehicles on the streets of the seaside community continues, and likely will do so for some time.

The Los Angeles Board of Public Works on Monday, November 17, denied 103 appeals filed by Venice residents who challenged the Bureau of Engineering’s August decision to require resident permits to park on Venice streets between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. The proposal, which originated with the elected Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC), now goes to the California Coastal Commission.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, November 18, L.A. City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl, who supported the permit parking plan in his district’s Venice neighborhood, introduced a motion before the Council to request the City Attorney to draft an amendment to the city ordinance that “effectively criminalizes living in one’s vehicle on a publicly owned street,” in Rosendahl’s words. He envisions an amendment that would allow each councilmember to designate zones in his/her district where people can sleep in their vehicles.

Los Angeles Municipal Code section 85.02 provides: “No person shall use a vehicle parked or standing upon any City street or upon any [City] parking lot . . . as living quarters either overnight, day-by-day, or otherwise.” For a variety of reasons, police are reluctant to rap on car or van windows in the middle of the night and roust people for “living” in their vehicles. Hence, the idea of banning overnight parking without a permit, which can be enforced by leaving a ticket on the windshield. Only neighborhood residents can obtain permits, for which they must (of course) pay a fee.

While there is a citywide ordinance governing Overnight Parking Districts (OPDs), such districts are established on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis pursuant to that ordinance. The proposal to establish such districts in Venice, while it had the blessing of Rosendahl and the Venice Neighborhood Council, drew much opposition from individual Venetians (and from the Venice Town Council and Venice Justice Committee) on the grounds that it limited coastal access, discriminated against the poor and homeless, and forced residents to pay to park on the street (if they could find a space).

Rosendahl argued before the Board of Public Works that the OPD plan actually expanded coastal access because early morning beachgoers would be better able to find parking spaces and that “the people of Venice have the same right to residential parking restrictions as residents of other parts of Los Angeles.”

If an appeal is filed to the state Coastal Commission (and, Venice being Venice, that is likely), it will probably be heard in February, June, or November of next year, said Nate Kaplan, Rosendahl’s communications deputy, given the Commission’s alternating its meetings between Northern and Southern California.

Rosendahl has said that if the OPD plan is put into effect, the districts will be canvassed on a block-by-block basis, and only if two-thirds of the residents on a given block favor the OPD will that block be restricted.

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