The City of Los Angeles would not have to receive the approval of the California Coastal Commission to establish parking restrictions in early morning hours on public streets in the coastal zone under a bill recently introduced by Assemblyman Ted Lieu.

In a proposed amendment to Assembly Bill (AB) 2228 regarding overnight parking, the City of Los Angeles could restrict parking on public streets in the Venice coastal zone between 2 and 5 a.m. without obtaining a permit from the Coastal Commission. The city would additionally be allowed to issue permits that exempt residents of the coastal zone from the parking restrictions.

According to the California Coastal Act, the Coastal Commission is authorized to issue permits to regulate various types of development along the coast. Assembly Bill 2228 states that existing law allows local municipalities to create an ordinance restricting vehicle parking on certain streets or highways between 2 and 6 a.m., a right which Lieu says he supports.

“I support cities having the traditional power of parking enforcement and oversight; every city has that, including the City of Los Angeles,” Lieu said.

The issue of establishing overnight parking districts has been at the forefront of a debate in recent years in Venice, where the community is seeking solutions to an ongoing problem of recreational vehicles lining streets for extended periods of time. The city sought the right to issue restrictive parking permits in June last year but the Coastal Commission rejected the request due to concerns of coastal access impacts.

With the lack of overnight parking limits, Lieu said Venice residents of the coastal zone have expressed concerns of public urination, litter and the dumping of raw sewage into yards and storm drains. As the location that is impacted by such issues, the city should be the one to decide how best to deal with them and not the statewide agency, Lieu said.

“I think the Coastal Commission does a great job in protecting our coast, but this to me is an issue of parking and making sure the residents of Venice are not affected by people urinating on laws and throwing trash on the streets,” the assemblyman said. “A lot of residents are being negatively impacted by a decision that should be made by the City of L.A. and not the Coastal Commission.”

But some Venice residents have opposed the proposed bill for attempting to remove the jurisdiction of the Coastal Commission in deciding if coastal zone parking restrictions can take effect. In a letter to Lieu, members of the Venice Action Alliance said the bill would challenge the Coastal Act, noting that the tendency of cities to restrict coastal access is one of the reasons that the Coastal Act was passed by state voters.

“We think it’s a bad idea to tamper with the Coastal Act; it’s one of the major protections against overdevelopment and for coastal issues in general,” said David Ewing, Venice Action Alliance member. “It undermines (the Coastal Act) when people can go at it piecemeal.”

The action alliance letter states that removing overnight permit parking from the purview of the Coastal Commission would be a serious error.

Responding to claims that the proposal tampers with the Coastal Act, Lieu said his bill is “very narrowly tailored,” applying only to Los Angeles and between 2 and 5 a.m., when the argument for coastal access effects is weak.

Venice Action Alliance member Karen Wolfe pointed to another concern with the bill, saying that granting Los Angeles the right to restrict coastal zone parking could open the door for other cities to do the same.

“Not only does this restrict public coastal access in Venice but it provides a blueprint for all other communities to restrict public access in their area, and that’s scary,” Wolfe said.

Richard Bloom, south coast representative of the Coastal Commission, said he has not extensively reviewed the bill but believes it calls for an unnecessary reduction of commission jurisdiction. The Santa Monica city councilman, whose city deals with a significant homeless population like Venice, said he recognizes the need to address vehicular camping but such a proposal could potentially have large-scale negative consequences on coastal access.

“Any time you start to reduce the jurisdiction of an entity, even in a relatively small way, it could be the camel’s nose under the tent,” Bloom said.

Members of the action alliance have also claimed that Lieu introduced the bill in response to the city’s attempt to resolve a lawsuit against it and the Coastal Commission. Following the commission’s denial of overnight parking permits in June, the Venice Stakeholders Association filed a lawsuit arguing that the commission does not have jurisdiction to approve or deny permits for restricted parking.

Lieu disputed the claim that his proposed legislation was in response to the lawsuit but said City Attorney Carmen Trutanich has sponsored the bill. Frank Mateljan, a spokesman for Trutanich, confirmed that the office has supported the bill.

Mark Ryavec, president of the Venice Stakeholders Association, also said the bill is not responding to the legal action but rather the alleged violation of the Coastal Act by the Coastal Commission when it rejected the permits last June. Lieu’s proposal could serve as a tool to offer coastal zone residents the same rights as other parts of the city to approve parking restrictions, he said.

“This is one more way for us to have the same rights to overnight restricted parking that everyone else in Los Angeles has,” Ryavec said.

City Councilman Bill Rosendahl reiterated his belief that residents living in the coastal sections of Venice, west of Lincoln Boulevard, should be given the same opportunity as other parts of Los Angeles to establish overnight parking districts.

“I said all along that it’s a fairness issue, and people on the west side of Lincoln should have the same rights as those on the east side,” Rosendahl said.

The councilman noted that he is actively pursuing other avenues that could be effective in curbing the RV problem in the community, including creating a safe overnight parking program similar to one in Santa Barbara and re-working the city’s ordinance on oversize vehicle parking.

Assembly Bill 2228 was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources on April 8th.

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