In a record turnout that may finally put the issue to rest, stakeholders approved an initiative to “reaffirm that Venice residents have the same democratic right as other L.A. residents to establish” Overnight Parking Districts (OPDs) that would restrict parking between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. to residents with permits. Similarly, Venetians rejected a competing initiative to “rescind any [Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC)] board approval” of OPDs.The February 21 election drew over 1,500 voters to the Venice Public Library on a Saturday afternoon, with some standing in line for an hour to cast their votes, surpassing the 2005 turnout of 1,189 for a Neighborhood Council board election.The vote in favor of OPDs was 891 to 608 with 13 abstentions. The vote against rescinding the prior VNC approval of OPDs was 868 to 634 with nine abstentions. In addition, 13 provisional ballots were cast but they would not affect the outcome in any event.VNC president Mike Newhouse said, “The number of people voting in this election is a tribute to the grass roots groups that got out the vote for their respective initiatives and to the interest that Venice residents had in the outcome. Administering the initiative process was a first for our Neighborhood Council and I thank our Election Committee for their service and conduct.”The issue of OPDs, a device used in many Los Angeles neighborhoods, has been hotly contested in Venice for over a year now. The elected VNC proposed the districts as a response to residents being unable to find street parking and the growing number of homeless people living in their vehicles and parking around the clock in Venice. Many residents objected, arguing that OPDs amounted to requiring all Venetians to pay to park in front of their own homes (there is a fee for the permits, of course), while cruelly forcing those who live in RVs and mobile homes out of their vehicles and onto the streets.The Los Angeles City Council approved the districts with the blessing of L. A. District 11 City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, and then the Los Angeles Board of Public Works in November 2008 denied 103 appeals filed by Venice residents who challenged the Bureau of Engineering’s August decision to go forward with the plan.After Saturday’s election, the VNC will continue processing applications for OPD status submitted by blocks on which two-thirds of the residents sign a petition that the block be restricted. The applications are then forwarded to City Hall for verification.The VNC reports that it has approved over 40 petitions to date. The City has posted signs restricting parking on several blocks in the OPD east of Lincoln Boulevard near Penmar Park, but the posting of signs within the Coastal Zone is on hold, pending approval by the California Coastal Commission which is expected to rule this summer whether the OPDs unduly restrict coastal access. In other Venice news, the VNC is hosting a town hall meeting to discuss the budget crisis facing State, County, and City governments on Thursday, February 26, featuring State Assemblymember Ted Lieu, County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, and City Councilmember Wendy Greuel. The VNC has invited other Westside neighborhood councils to the 6:30 p.m. gathering at Westminster Elementary School in Venice.At its monthly meeting on Tuesday, February 17, the VNC unanimously approved:• A resolution submitted by stakeholder Marc Saltzberg and supported by the Land Use and Planning Committee that the County should halt redevelopment in Marina del Rey until it considers all development proposals as one comprehensive redevelopment project in a CEQA-compliant process; and• A resolution to adopt a Venice Emergency Preparedness Plan as submitted by the Emergency Preparedness Subcommittee of the Neighborhood Committee.
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