More than 100 individual appeals have been filed opposing the city of Los Angeles’ plan to impose Overnight Permit Parking Districts (OPDs) in Venice, according to Julie Van Wagner of the city’s Bureau of Engineering.
The restriction of coastal access was the overriding concern of many of the appeals. It would be nearly impossible to find free parking on public streets in Venice from 2 – 6am if the OPDs were implemented. This would force many very low-income residents who live in their vehicles to leave the coastal zone. It would also prevent evening shift workers from coming to the beach and surrounding area after they get off work.
The OPDs were vigorously opposed at the only public hearing on the matter, which was held in Venice on June 26. Opponents noted that the hearing was not even mentioned in the Decision issued by the Bureau of Engineering on Aug. 26. Appeals pointed out that this might be a violation of state law. In addition, the conduct of the hearing was contracted out to a Boston-based firm, Camp, Dresser and McKee Inc., and no transcript of the hearing was made.
Other issues included lack of exemption of vehicles with handicapped placards; inability of residents living west of Speedway to obtain parking permits; a possible conflict of interest by the city of Los Angeles’ Department of Transportation which filed the application for the OPDs and stands to make about $1 million per year for its overnight parking fund from selling the $35 permits; plus revenue from citations for not having a permit.
Alan Willis, Principal Transportation Engineer at the Dept. of Transportation, who filed the applications on behalf of the city, claimed that the OPDs were needed because of “overnight parking of commercial vehicles and abandonment of vehicles.” Opponents say these are fabricated excuses for establishing the permits.
According to Peggy Lee Kennedy of the Justice Committee and Venice Food not Bombs, the OPDs are aimed at those who live in RVs. “The city, along with a few homeless haters came up with this scheme to drive the poor and disabled vehicular housed homeless people out of our community.”
Steve Clare, executive director of VCHC, a neighborhood based non profit housing corporation located in one of the OPD’s, said VCHC’s appeal focused on issues of “fundamental fairness.” “The public should have the right to use the pubic streets that we all pay to maintain. And no one should be denied the opportunity to come and enjoy Venice beach whenever they can find the time.” Clare said.
Jim Smith, a participant and former chairperson of the Venice Town Council, said “Nothing in recent years has united opposition of all groups in Venice like the OPDs have. It has brought together homeowners, renters and the homeless to oppose OPDs, which seem so wrong for so many reasons. Unfortunately, the anti-RV crowd has convinced Councilmember Bill Rosendahl to go along with the OPDs in spite of community opposition.”
The appeals will now be reviewed by Van Wagner, who said it may take more than a month since there are so many of them. Meanwhile, opposition to permit parking continues to grow in Venice.