By Mark Lipman
Preamble: A great many persons in Venice strongly oppose installing permit parking in our community for various reasons and it is improper to simply ignore their concerns.
Firstly, the proposed Overnight Parking Districts (OPDs) discriminate against very low income residents, who are forced to live in their vehicles due to the overwhelming economic crisis.
Secondly, the OPDs will force many renters and home owners to pay for parking in and around their neighborhoods.
Thirdly, the OPDs discriminate against large families and households with more than three vehicles.
Finally, the OPDs discriminate against people living near the beach, who will not be eligible for permits.
Understandably, many in our community are concerned with there being an excess of recreational vehicles parked on the streets and the various problems associated with this. However, installing OPDs is the wrong solution to this problem.
May I propose the following more balanced approach to solving this problem:
Whether we like it or not, it must be recognized that for whatever reason a number of people are living in their vehicles. According to Section 85.02 of the LAMC, this is illegal. However, there is much acknowledgement throughout the city, on up to our own councilman Bill Rosendahl, that this is a bad law and must be changed.
Additionally, many may rightfully argue the validity of this law under the constitution. Under the basic precepts of our freedom, the right of lifestyle choice is fundamental.
Therefore, we are forced to accept that if someone, who is housed in a vehicle chooses to live in our community they have the constitutional right to do so.
Beyond that however the city does also have the right to regulate this form of housing for the overall well being of our community as a whole.
The first order of business is to determine who and how many amongst the vehicularly housed are residents. This will give us a good understanding of how many parking places are necessary within the Venice boundaries to accommodate our needs.
Those who desire to register as residents of Venice will then be issued a permit to be affixed to their vehicle. By registering, this will establish residency in Venice, with the same rights and responsibilities as other residents, including the right to vote in all local elections.
II. Permits and Parking
Through the issuance of residency permits, vehicularly housed residents will be required to pay a permit fee of say $50 per year (with a recommended fee waiver or reduced fee for the first year of implementation). This permit fee would be reflective of a property tax that could be used for community investment in needed areas such as street maintenance.
This permitting structure would shift the tax/fee burden from renters and home owners to the vehicularly housed residents, thus making it fairer for all concerned. Renters and home owners will not be forced to pay for parking, while vehicularly housed residents will pay a reasonable fee for use of public streets and approved parking lots to live on top of legally.
In order to reduce the community impact of this arrangement the city will create preferential parking zones for RV’s and other vehicles within Venice that display the vehicular resident permit.
There will be a study performed to determine what the best locations for these zones will be that have minimal impact to traditional residential zones.
III. Lincoln Place
One location where there is currently plenty of available street parking is in front of the housing project known as Lincoln Place. These streets could easily accommodate many motor vehicles and could be made into preferential parking zones for RV’s.
As Lincoln Place will eventually be reopened as affordable housing, with many of the illegally evicted tenants returning, there will be a number of additional housing units available there and priority placement could be offered to those vehicular residents who choose to park in this zone of Lincoln Place.
IV. Non-Residents Living in Vehicles
Those persons choosing to opt out of becoming vehicular residents of Venice would choose to be considered as tourists, travelers, or variants of such. For those non-residents, they would be permitted to park as normal, however the city parking control agents would be informed to strictly enforce all existing parking regulations, with particular emphasis on 72 hour parking limits.
For 72 hour parking enforcement, agents would both chalk the targeted vehicle’s tires and leave a warning ticket on the vehicle’s windshield informing them that they have been targeted for citation.
V. Enforcement of Current Laws
One additional way to increase public street parking is by enforcing the current zoning laws. If a survey were conducted of houses in Venice, it would be found that many of the garages that were required to be built in order to receive the original building permits, have been illegally converted into ping-pong parlors and workshops, storerooms, game rooms, living rooms, offices and even apartments, instead of places to park their cars as prescribed by law.
If these property owners insist on violating the existing zoning laws, thus exasperating the parking situation, the least they can do is stop blaming RVs for the problem they helped create.
VI. Overnight Parking Districts
If after the above solutions have been implemented and there is still a need for OPDs in certain areas of our community, there would be more openness for consideration, knowing that others in our community would not be adversely affected by them. As it is the current OPD proposal being sought by the City of Los Angeles is rife with problems that detrimentally affect too many people throughout the Venice community to be the proper solution to the challenges we face. We deserve better.