County Steals Venice’s Beach

By John Davis

Around 1999 former Councilperson Ruth Galanter began work to finish a Local Coastal Program (LCP) for Venice, a focused planning process that involved the community in hearings that were intended to help plan Venice so that a balance of development, resource preservation, and most importantly access to the Coastal Zone could be struck. But, both components of an LCP were not accepted by the Coastal Commission.

While the Land Use Plan was largely in conformance with the Coastal Act the Commission Staff would not even consider the submission of the Venice Specific Plan because it was so far out of conformance with Chapter 3 of the Coastal Act. The City has since been utilizing this plan which is inconsistent with State Law, the Coastal Act, for over a decade now.  The result is planning gone awry in Venice. The Beachhead reported this around 2004.  It has gotten so bad that the former city planner, appointed by the Mayor, began issuing Coastal Development Permits instead of a legislative body as is required by the Brown Act. Even worse, a senior clerk typist was even allowed to sign CDPs in the Planners Office, removing public participation from the picture entirely.

Put them all together and we are left with a pile of bad planning. The result is overdevelopment which has encroached on public parking, the County illegally operating City facilities while taking money from the public with no authority whatsoever, and an illegal beach curfew which the LAPD uses to sweep up innocent persons and throw them in jail for simply exercising their rights under the California Constitution to access public trust lands. This is done in a discriminatory manner targeting persons of lesser means.

I met with Bill Rosendahl recently to discuss these issues which his office has know about for years, but has taken no measures to correct. Well, the problems did not correct themselves and have become far more entangled to the point that the Community sees no way out of the political negligence.

But finally, there may be some positive movement. The LCP process would bring community members together, again, to discuss parking matters in a framework of real public hearings that are part of a legal process with an end result. This could help. Of course, as in democracy, not everyone will be happy with the finished product, but at least legal plans could finally be drawn. That is, of course, if Rosendahl picks up the ball. And it appears he has, partially.

He has informed me that he is now in consultation with the city planner in regard to finishing the coastal planning process in Venice, and perhaps other beach communities such as Playa del Rey. He is also in contact with the Office of the City Attorney to determine what measures can be taken to regain control over the City’s valuable beach property.

Dockweiler State Beach, which the city leases, includes many parking lots and is intended to accommodate RV Homeowners. Some of those lots are not used at night at all and are next to restrooms. County Supervisor Don Knabe has usurped CD 11’s authority unlawfully at the State Park and also operates parking lots such as the one at the Venice Pier, which is also empty at night, and too, is adjacent to public restrooms. Knabe allows a third party, a non-governmental entity, perhaps one of his campaign contributors, to operate the lot, extort money from people, and close it at night. This is clearly an abuse of political office because the county has no lawful jurisdiction whatsoever. It is the same as if the County were to impose a fee on people visiting City Hall.

If Rosendahl could wrest control back from Knabe, a pump-out station could be installed at the Venice Pier lot so residents would not be faced with greywater discharges by irresponsible people onto the public streets. Perhaps the lot could even be used for parking at night, which may irritate some residents but benefit the community as a whole.

Regarding the illegal beach curfew that LAPD is using to punish citizens who lawfully visit the beach at night, Bill seems stalled and would not respond to my questions in that regard.

Here are the questions I posed to Bill in regard to the curfew. I informed him that I would include his response to the people in this article, if any.

“The city was granted its tidelands by the state legislature. The grant requires free access to public trust lands in accordance with the state constitution. The Coastal Act also insures access to the coastal zone at day and night. Some people that work during the day wish to visit the coastal zone at night. Many, such as myself, enjoy stargazing, fishing, and surfing before dawn.

The city has been informed by the Coastal Commission that the ordinance is not only a violation of the Coastal Act but is also violative of the California Constitution.”
Question: Will you by motion request the City Council to repeal this unconstitutional curfew and if not, why? Bill –NO RESPONSE
Question: Will you continue to support the use of this unlawful curfew ordinance to conduct beach sweeps which have resulted in the arrest of citizens simply exercising their constitutional right to beach access and if so why? Bill-NO RESPONSE

Lets all hope that Bill takes charge of Venice, and soon. Otherwise he will be seen as no different from former councilmember, Cindy Miscikowski, who was known for doing nothing positive and developing everything in sight.

Categories: Environment, Politics