Coastal Commission Agrees with OPD opponents – Will Hold Hearing in June

By Jim Smith

It only took the Coastal Commission a couple of minutes, Feb. 4, to derail the city’s rush to implement parking permits in Venice. The 12-person Board sided with appeals of the OPDs (Overnight Parking Districts) by Peggy Lee Kennedy & Coastal Commission Executive Director, Peter Douglas et al, in determining that the permits constitute a substantial issue for coastal access. In all, 33 appeals were received by the Commission.

Because of this determination, a hearing will be held on the matter, during the regularly scheduled Commission meeting on June 10-12. According to Charles Posner, the South Coast Manager, a location has not been selected. Possible venues include Marina del Rey, Long Beach and Orange County. 

It was after 4pm before the Commission got to item 22, Venice permit parking, on its agenda. Most of us had been waiting since 9am at the Huntington Beach City Hall. Joining two van loads and several cars of opponents were a handful of permit parking supporters and their high-priced lawyer, Sherman Stacey (who has appeared before the Commission more times than any other attorney). 

Bill Rosendahl, our peripatetic city council person, tried to do his usual ploy of getting the meeting to rearrange its schedule so he can talk and leave. The Commission was having none of it, having hosted Mayors, Senators and Governors in the past. So Bill and his staff had to cool their heels until 4pm. 

Also spending the day in Huntington Beach were LAPD Captain Joseph Hiltner, Officer Theresa Skinner and an unidentified detective. Presumably they were present to testify in favor of OPDs. This reporter wondered how they were able to spend the day waiting to testify on a policy decision, when their mission is law enforcement. However, a few days later, Chief Billy Bratton popped up on TV campaign for city political candidates. A definition of a police state is where a political police force secretly supervises the citizens’ activities. Apparently in Venice and Los Angeles, it’s not a police state since the supervision is done in the open. 

At 4pm the Chair, Bonnie Neely moved to the Venice OPDs. Two of the Commissioners copped to having talked with Attorney Stacey, and one, vice-chair William Burke said he had been contacted by Rosendahl. Nevertheless, a motion to regard the OPDs as a substantial issue was passed without objection. Because there were no objections, no speakers were permitted to the regret of many of those who had spent the day in the arena. When the hearing is held, there will be speakers, but they will be limited to those who filed appeals and those who had filled out speaker cards at this meeting. But a big turnout of those who want unrestricted coastal access will certainly help.