Pushing forward proposals to establish overnight parking districts in five Venice areas, the Los Angeles Board of Public Works has found that such restrictions would not have an impact on coastal access.

The board voted Monday, November 17th, to deny appeals of the approval of local Coastal Development Permits for overnight parking districts (OPDs) in five areas — the Oxford Triangle, Presidents Row, West Venice, East Venice and the Villa Marina area near Marina del Rey. The decision comes after the city Bureau of Engineering approved the Coastal Development Permits for the parking restrictions.

If the parking districts are established, overnight will be prohibited in the districts between 2 and 6 a.m. nightly, except for vehicles with permits.

“No overnight parking” signs would be installed by the city Department of Transportation on a block-by-block basis upon written request from City Councilman Bill Rosendahl’s office.

All five of the proposed parking districts are within the coastal zone and require a Coastal Development Permit, but both the East and West Venice areas are within dual jurisdiction and will also require a permit from the California Coastal Commission.

In reviewing the proposed overnight parking districts, the Board of Public Works tried to determine if the regulations would affect access to the beach during those hours, as addressed in the California Coastal Act, public works commissioner Paula Daniels noted.

“The narrow focus in our decision making was whether it was consistent with the Coastal Act and whether it would interfere with public access to the beach and commercial areas,” Daniels said. “With the information we were given, we found that it would not [affect public access].”

Board members determined that there is a “sufficient amount” of public parking space available between 2 and 6 a.m., not just for residents but visitors as well, Daniels said.

Following the Public Works vote November 17th, the overnight parking district proposals move to the coastal commission for approval and are subject to an appeal period of 20 working days. More than 100 appeals were filed to the public works board against the overnight parking permits.

The overnight parking district restrictions were proposed after residents expressed concerns over vehicles, primarily recreational vehicles (RVs), being parked on Venice streets for extended periods. Some residents claim that the vehicles are turning the areas into a campground and creating unsanitary conditions in the neighborhood.

But others argue that the regulations are not the way to address the issue because they would affect the homeless and those living in the RVs, and people would be challenged to find parking at night.

Peggy Lee Kennedy of the organization Venice Food Not Bombs, which helps to feed the homeless, said many community members don’t seem to support the parking districts.

“The majority of people in Venice don’t want this and it’s being shoved down their throats,” Kennedy said. “No public vote has ever been taken in Venice on this.”

Low-income and disabled people who live in their vehicles would be driven out of the community under the parking limits and the city should look at ways to provide more affordable housing, she said.

“Criminalization is no solution to poverty,” Kennedy said. “These are human beings and they deserve basic human rights.”

Venice Community Housing Corporation executive director Steve Clare said the corporation also appealed the overnight parking district proposal, arguing that “it is not good public policy to privatize the streets.”

“Contrary to what the motivating documents indicate, it is not an issue about dealing with abandoned cars, it is clearly an effort to deal with the people living in their vehicles and to get them off the street,” Clare said.

He noted that there is an “enormous” number of people living on the streets in the city and officials need to consider opportunities to offer more affordable housing.

“The city has to acknowledge that reality and deal with it in a humane way,” said Clare, who added that the regulations would effectively eliminate the right of the public to access the beach between 2 and 6 a.m.

But Stewart Oscars, chair of the Venice Neighborhood Council OPD Committee, said the districts would improve beach access because they would help free the streets of the stationary vehicles.

“This is a great step for beach access,” Oscars said. “It’s one more tool that will allow people to have control over their local parking.”

Oscars and Daniels of the public works board noted that the decision to implement the overnight parking districts is in the “hands of the people,” as two-thirds of the residents in the respective neighborhoods would have to approve the districts and Rosendahl would need to submit a letter to the Department of Transportation.

Rosendahl told the Board of Public Works that the controversial overnight parking issue has been difficult to address.

“Like all matters of public policy, this issue is one that requires a delicate balancing of competing and deserving interests,” the councilman told the board.

Rosendahl, who supported the Coastal Development Permit approval, acknowledged that the parking districts would have an impact on people living in their vehicles and he discussed ways to address their concerns. He said he has proposed an amendment to a city ordinance criminalizing living in a vehicle that would allow people to sleep in vehicles in certain areas.

Clare commended the suggestions of the councilman, who also plans to continue looking at ways to use city and church lots for overnight parking.

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