September 2008 – With Enough Shovels

By Jim Smith

Groundbreaking for new metered parking spots on Tabor Court, Aug. 14, behind the Abbot Kinney stores, saw Councilmember Bill Rosendahl and various city of Los Angeles bureaucrats wielding shovels on a pile of dirt brought in just for the occasion. The shovels were painted gold, perhaps, to emphasize to Venetians that $800,000 of their Surplus Property Fund had been expropriated to create metered parking, the proceeds of which will go to the L.A. general fund. According to the May Beachhead, $800,000 was taken from the Venice fund, “to cover design and construction of urgently needed metered parking in Venice’s central business district.” (Tabor Court).

The short-term parking will be built on the former Red Car railroad right-of-way. History buffs should hurry to see the historic rails that remain on Palms Blvd. According to Vahik Vartanians, a Bureau of Engineering civil engineer, the rails will be ripped up. Following the year-long project there will be no reminders that we once rode throughout the Southland on fast, environmentally-sound rail cars instead of gas guzzling automobiles. Nonetheless, many in the crowd swelled with pride at the progress this project will bring to Venice.

One concern not addressed was the reduction of access to the coast due to restricted parking caused by the installation of meters in the existing lots. According to the California Coastal Act, beach access in the Coastal area (Lincoln to the beach) must take precedent over other uses of the land. It remains to be seen whether anyone will appeal to the Coastal Commission.

With only two questions allowed from reporters, it was not possible to discover whether Rosendahl publicly favors much needed affordable housing on top of the parking lots as has been proposed by the Venice Community Housing Corporation. Nor was it possible to find out if he would publicly support overnight parking for those who are forced to sleep in their vehicles.

Whether the new metered parking will help business on Abbot Kinney Blvd. as is being hyped, or will cause shoppers to divert to Santa Monica where they can park for free for two hours is debatable. One observer at the dedication told the Beachhead that businesses would be better served by closing Abbot Kinney Blvd. to automobiles. “Then people would flock to AKB for its novelty,” he said.

For this reporter, this is another example of how Los Angeles continues to loot Venice of its resources (nearly a million dollars of our money will be converted into parking fees and tickets for L.A.). Rosendahl admitted to the crowd at the dedication that Venice’s loss of cityhood in 1925 was probably a mistake. Will Venetians continue to beg for crumbs at L.A.’s table or will they stand up for their right to run their own affairs?