If you visit Venice and are very observant, you might notice a subtle difference. Things might seem a bit more opened up. You may see more sky. If so, that’s not likely a result of breathing in the pot smoke on Venice Beach. Rather, it may be because Venice homeowners have finally taken action in their long-running battle to restrict recreational vehicles from permanently camping on their streets. Specifically, in recent months, some Venice streets, such as 3rd Avenue pictured here, now have signs posted which prohibit vehicles over 7 feet high or over 22 feet long from parking between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m.
If you have followed this saga, whether at blogging.la or elsewhere, you’ll know that Venice homeowners have been trying for years to counter what they consider a health hazard, an eyesore, and a parking space-squatting problem of people permanently living in RVs on Venice streets. On the other side, advocates for the homeless had considerable success portraying the issue as one of heartless homeowners picking on them. Even the California Coastal Commission got involved, but quickly wriggled out when the issue became a political football.
Eventually, the Los Angeles City Council ruled that Venice residents could place overnight parking restrictions on oversize vehicles, and the residents have relied on this ruling to get those signs up on some streets. Based on my observations, the signs have had an effect, even in daytime. For example, when I took these shots on 3rd Avenue last Sunday, I counted three RVs on the block, whereas typically there would be about eight at that time. (Note, however, that, in typical L.A. fashion, there are two seemingly conflicting signs on the same post, one which restricts vehicles over seven feet high from 2 to 6 a.m., the other restricting vehicles over six feet high at all times).
Los Angeles City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl, whose district includes Venice, has, I believe, been a voice of reason on this issue all along. Rosendahl tried from the beginning to balance the interests of both sides, suggesting that, in return for the street parking restrictions, adequate, safe parking zones (modeled after similar facilities in Santa Barbara and in Eugene, OR) should be made available nearby for homeless people to park overnight in their vehicles. With Rosendahl’s help, this program, called Roadmap to Housing, is being crafted, albeit not yet in Venice itself, nor at the same speed with which the overnight parking restrictions are being instituted.
In any event, I would be surprised if we have heard the last of the Venice Parking issue.