Facing a legal challenge to its jurisdiction to issue permits for overnight parking restrictions in Venice, the California Coastal Commission has backed its decision earlier this year to deny such permits.

The Coastal Commission voted Thursday, November 5th to approve revised findings denying coastal development permits to establish overnight parking districts (OPDs) in five areas of Venice. The revised findings come after the commission rejected staff recommendations in June to approve the coastal permits, which would allow for parking to be restricted from 2 to 6 a.m., except by permit, within the coastal zone.

At the June meeting some commission members said they felt that they were being tasked with addressing a social issue rather than a coastal access issue. Some members of the public told commissioners that residents should have the right to establish parking restrictions, while others argued that OPDs would displace people who are forced to live in their vehicles.

In its revised findings, the commission said it determined at the June public hearing that the proposed OPDs would “adversely affect coastal access” and do not conform with the Coastal Act because they would exclude the public from parking on public streets. The commission additionally found that alternatives exist that would accomplish the applicant’s goals without adversely impacting coastal access.

Mark Ryavec, president of the Venice Stakeholders Association, called the revised findings a “fabrication” of the commission’s June decision, when commissioners spoke of a social issue.

“It was an ideological decision and now they’re coming back and saying ‘we’re changing our mind,’” he said. “They should stand by their guns.”

Following the commission’s decision in June, the Venice Stakeholders Association filed a lawsuit against the Coastal Commission and City of Los Angeles, alleging that the commission does not have jurisdiction over parking restrictions in the city.

The City of Los Angeles then filed a cross complaint late last month also alleging that the commission does not have jurisdiction on parking restrictions imposed by the city for OPDs. The cross complaint additionally claims that the city is not obligated to obtain or issue a coastal development permit from the commission to establish OPDs.

In a letter addressed to the commission, city principal transportation engineer Alan Willis said the city opposed the approval of the revised findings. Among the city’s arguments were that OPDs “do not constitute development” under the Coastal Act and the city has the authority to limit overnight parking.

Coastal Commission spokes-man Charles Posner disputed those arguments, saying parking restrictions are defined as development under the Coastal Act.

“According to the Coastal Act, the definition of development is anything that affects access to the shoreline,” he said.

Posner added that there are numerous instances in which the Coastal Commission does have jurisdiction on permit parking in the coastal zone and the commission is confident about its position heading into the litigation process.

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