The long-simmering issue of overnight parking at Venice Beach came to a head at June 11’s Coastal Commission Hearing, as the Commission considered a Los Angeles proposal for overnight parking permits and parking districts (known as “OPDs”). After more than four hours of testimony and discussion, the result was the Commission’s rejection of the proposal.
Parking at the beach, whether on the street or in lots, has been a major issue in Venice for many years, as has the issue of homeless people who live in their vehicles.
The City of Los Angeles, represented in Venice by Councilmember Bill Rosendahl, offered a solution with the idea of creating five overnight parking districts (OPDs) throughout Venice, with parking restricted to residents only, with night parking prohibited between the hours of 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. and requiring vehicles to have permits costing (initially) $15.
The June 11 hearing focused on a new measure presented by the City that would add Ocean Front Walk to the OPDs, would change the hours that require permits to 2 a.m. to 5 a.m., and would open beach parking lots at night, but would only allow individual vehicles to park for up to four hours.
Outraged that the new proposal had not been previously vetted by the public, Venice activists flocked to the hearing. Almost 100 people spoke before the Commission, many of them bearing signs that read “NOPD.”
Steve Clare, executive director of Venice Community Housing Corporation, spoke for many of the opponents when he said: “The parking needs of the public have not been properly assessed.” A representative from the American Civil Liberties Union pointed out that controlling parked RVs and other vehicles that serve as homes by requiring them to obtain permits, may prohibit fair access to the beach.
Others spoke of what they thought was an attempt to drive the homeless out of Venice. They claimed that physically and mentally handicapped people would be affected and that poor people could not afford the fee for permits.
Some bits of levity came through at times, as when one man joked that “I hope that someday RVs will be allowed to marry.”
Those who spoke in favor of the proposed permits and districts included Mike Newhouse of the Venice Neighborhood Council and Mark Ryavec of the Venice Stakeholders Association.
Proponents cited garbage, sewage, and noise problems from lived-in vehicles, and complained of a lack of parking for residents because of vehicles taking up space for 24 hours or longer. Their comments were often met with hisses and shouts by some opponents.
Faced with a very contentious issue, the Coastal Commissioners stated their belief that the social problems would have to be put aside and the issue considered strictly in terms of coastal access, environmentalism, and adherence to the Coastal Act.
Two motions were offered: one, a rejection of the City proposal, and two, a continuance to allow more study of the issue. The continuance idea met with resistance, as it would mean more meetings and would possibly be in conflict with deadlines for certain permits. After Coastal Director Peter Douglas noted that a continuance would “place a burden on us,” the motion was discarded in favor of the motion to vote for or against the proposal. The final vote was nine against, one in favor, one abstention.
The fight to rid Venice of RVs and truck gypsies may continue. Ryavec told the Mirror that he would be “pressing the LAPD to enforce the existing laws. It’s illegal to lodge in your vehicle at night.”