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Overnight Parking Plan for Venice:

Months after the California Coastal Commission declared in June 2009 that the creation of proposed overnight parking districts would have an adverse effect on public coastal access, Los Angeles City Council member Bill Rosendahl has proposed an alternative plan for the problem of overnight parking. The plan, which is making its way through the City Council and has been approved by the Council’s Homelessness Committee and tentatively by the Los Angeles Transportation Department, has garnered support from Venice Action, a group of Venice residents, and from the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC).

Venice Action’s press release “salutes the California Coastal Commission for adopting its revised findings in support of its previous denial of the applications submitted by the City of Los Angeles to establish overnight parking districts throughout Venice,” and also commends Rosendahl for his “progressive stand.”

The VNC issued a statement at its October 20 meeting in support of the Rosendahl plan, but suggested making some small changes in language to achieve consensus with Venetians.

Christopher Plourde, spokesperson for Venice Action, told The Mirror that while he does not know the exact language of the Rosendahl proposal, the jist of it is “to establish places where people would actually park and be safe, without fear of being victimized by cops.” The proposal would change the current law (LAMC Section 85.2) to allow “discrete and distinct” areas where people would be allowed to park and sleep overnight. Ideally, these areas would include restrooms, security, and social services. Similar “homeless parking lots” have been created in Eugene, Oregon and Santa Barbara.

Some area residents have expressed concern that the need for overnight parking is mostly a need of homeless “truck gypsy” types whose presence in Venice accounts for unsanitary conditions and crime.

“The real problem is that there’s no such thing as ‘the homeless,’ Plourde observes. “It breaks down into several groups. There’s one group of people who have lost their jobs—in California where the unemployment rate now tops 12 per cent. There’s another class of people who for whatever reason, need medical attention.”­

On the other side of the street, where parking is concerned, is a group called the Venice Stakeholders Association (VSA). This group filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court on August 11, to remove the Commission from having jurisdiction over the overnight parking districts. The VSA claims that the Coastal Commission‘s vote against “OPDS” or the establishment of restricted parking in Venice, violates the Coastal Act.

Venice Action’s press release claims that VSA has partnered with another group called the Pacific Legal Foundation which, in their words “has attempted for years to dilute the safeguards of the California Coastal Act.” Also, on October 28, Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich filed a “cross-complaint” in Los Angeles County Superior Court, to the effect that the City of Los Angeles is not obliged to seek a coastal permit to impose permit parking on residents.

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