Venice Residents Sue California Coastal Commission Over Denial of Parking Restrictions

IMG_1652Venice’s battle to prevent RVs from camping on its streets took a new turn this past week, when the Venice Stakeholders Association filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court against the California Coastal Commission for denying Venice’s bid to create overnight parking districts (“OPDs”). The OPD plan would have prohibited parking on certain Venice streets for several hours in the middle of the night.  The main goal was to prevent RVs from camping on these streets for days, weeks, and months on end.  Venice residents have complained for years that these RVs dump raw sewage and create other sanitary and safety problems in the neighborhoods.  However, the Coastal Commission, in what used to be termed a “cosmic wimpout,”  decided in June that it didn’t want to wade into the “social problem” of homelessness, but its decision voting down the Venice OPD plan had the effect of taking a side against Venice residents on the issue anyway.

The lawsuit by Venice Stakeholders Association alleges that the Coastal Commission has no business being involved in the OPD decision at all.  The OPD plan is considered “development” under the Coastal Act, which requires Coastal Commission approval, but, as the lawsuit points out, the OPD plan doesn’t involve any “development,” just a few new or changed street signs. The lawsuit also alleges that the Coastal Commission, by permitting the RVs to remain on Venice streets for long stretches of time, is failing to do its duty to protect the ocean from raw sewage which is allegedly being dumped from these RVs and which works its way into the water via storm drains.

I think the Venice residents have made some good points in their lawsuit.  I also found the argument on which the Coastal Commission based its June decision — that requiring RVs to park in designated parking areas that were closer to the beach somehow threatens access of people to the coast — completely upside down.  The Coastal Commission ignored the fact that, in the current situation, the constant presence of so many RVs in public street parking spaces hinders coastal access by visitors to Venice (who, by the way, spend lots of money at local Venice businesses), including people visiting the homeowners, since they have more trouble finding street parking.

Advocates for the homeless have shrewdly but cynically convinced people that anyone who wants to prevent RVs from camping permanently on Venice residential streets is a cold-hearted bastard.  That’s a false choice.  The OPD plan specifically provided for alternative (and arguably better) parking for the RVs, close to the beach.  Councilman Bill Rosendahl wants to go further and set up local safe parking zones with facilities for the RVs.  But even given that many people are homeless and struggling in this Depression 2.0 and we must come up with good solutions to help them, turning Venice streets into the world’s free beachside RV campground, with no facilities, for homeless and voluntary off-the-grid people is not the solution. If I were a Venice homeowner, I would be steamed at what the Coastal Commission did in June, and I would eagerly have joined in this lawsuit.

It appears that this issue is going to continue to be a hot one.

6 thoughts on “Venice Residents Sue California Coastal Commission Over Denial of Parking Restrictions”

  1. Yeah. It’s tough. But I’m always questioning the motives on anyone who wants to restrict parking.

    I think about the empty streets of Beverly Hills neighborhoods where rich home owners used the weight of law to block all parking but their own. So you go to the doctor’s office over there and after looking at all the available but illegal parking you are forced to deal with one of the three horsemen of the Apokolips: Valet Parking…(the other two being anyone in favor of Pre Paid Legal and Identity Theft Protection)

    And our taxes go to paying for those streets BTW.

  2. It sounds like the situation is quite different in Beverly Hills. In Venice, the streets are far from empty, especially in the summer when thousands of beachgoers arrive by car every day. Plus, the proposed parking restrictions were only for 2-5 a.m. or 2-6 a.m., depending on the block, and they only involved 5 blocks or quadrants. So if you can’t find street parking in Venice for your doctor’s office, yoga center, or pot dispensary, it’s in part because many spots are occupied by RV and car squatters.

  3. If you don’t like beachgoers who arrive by car everyday, maybe you shouldn’t decide to build your nest in the middle of a tourist attraction?

    Seriously, if you don’t like tourists and rv’s why do you choose to live in a place that attracts them?

    Why don’t you go move inland instead of taking up the beach and trying to restrict everyone else from enjoying it in their own way?

    As for sewage, the health department should impound vehicles with leaking sewage. Don’t send a metermaid to do a health inspectors job.

  4. @venicenative — I’m sure the Venice homeowners were well aware of the tourists when they purchased their homes. The problem isn’t the tourists, who, by definition, visit and then leave. The problem is that tourists, locals who come to the beach, locals who come to shop, people who come to dine in restaurants, visitors to the homeowners, and others can’t find parking because the people are squatting in their RVs and other vehicles for days, weeks, months, and possibly even longer.

    Note that it is ALREADY ILLEGAL to sleep in your vehicle, including RVs and cars, overnight on Venice streets. If the police or other responsible officials would simply enforce existing law, there would be no need to try to create overnight parking districts.

    As for your last comment about the sewage, I fully agree with you that, as is the case with sleeping in vehicles overnight, existing laws should be enforced by the appropriate officials.

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