Playa del Rey residents living near the Del Rey Lagoon have run into similar challenges as a community to the north in fighting to obtain overnight permit parking near the coast.

Residents on streets bordering the lagoon park say that for years, they have been struggling to find parking near their homes at night, having to compete with visitors to the beach, park and local businesses. With parking restricted after 10 p.m. nightly in certain areas surrounding the park, residents note that their parking troubles are additionally strained.

Along with the difficulties locating parking spots by their homes have been impacts associated with visitors coming to the area at night, including noise, trash, and concerns of crimes such as vandalism and drug use, some residents have said.

“The parking issue revolves around the issue of whether much of the street parking in the Del Rey Lagoon area should belong to visitors at all hours of the day and night,” resident William Ballough said.

To help resolve the situation, residents and the city of Los Angeles proposed to establish parking districts on parts of Argonaut, Esplanade and Convoy streets, and 63rd Avenue near the lagoon where parking would be prohibited, except by permit, between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

The restrictions would be implemented only on blocks where two-thirds of residents vote to approve them. Similar restrictions have been sought for years by residents in Venice, where the city has been trying to address a problem of RVs and other oversize vehicles parking on the streets for extended periods of time.

But as has happened in Venice, the city’s effort to limit overnight parking in Playa del Rey has been blocked by a state coastal agency that focuses on impacts to coastal access. The California Coastal Commission voted at its meeting in Santa Monica Friday, Nov. 19 to reject issuing permits for preferential parking districts by the Del Rey Lagoon, saying that the proposal would negatively affect public coastal access at night.

The vote was harshly criticized by Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who noted he has had similar troubles receiving the commission’s support for addressing residents’ concerns in Venice.

“Once again, the California Coastal Commission has slapped residents of Los Angeles in the face,” said Rosendahl, who has advocated for residents to have the same rights as other parts of the city to vote for parking restrictions.

“Today, the Coastal Commission heard the thoughtful, reasonable, articulate concerns of residents of the overcrowded beach community of Playa del Rey. The commissioners turned a deaf ear to those concerns, and by rejecting the petition for preferential parking, said they do not care if residents are subjected to noise, unruly behavior and remarkable congestion.

“This panel of non-elected political appointees effectively chose to ignore the pleas of residents who need to circle blocks for 30 minutes to find a parking space within a mile of their homes.”

Unlike with the proposal for Venice, in which commission staff recommended approval, the Coastal Commission voted to support the staff recommendation to deny Playa del Rey’s application. Staff found that the proposal does not conform with the California Coastal Act because it would exclude the public from parking overnight and give residents preferential access through permits. Staff said there are alternatives that would not impact coastal access.

While the city offered some mitigation measures to the restrictions, such as installing parking meters, commission staff said they did not provide adequate safeguards to offset the impacts. In regards to the concerns of nuisance in the area, staff noted that nuisance issues should be handled by local law enforcement under existing laws.

Robert “Roy” van de Hoek, co-director of the Ballona Institute and a resident who lives near the lagoon, said while the commission’s vote was consistent with its action in Venice, he believes that one of the reasons the parking districts are needed is to limit the number of visitors who come to fish at night.

“I have concerns, as a resident, for nature and wildlife,” said van de Hoek.

Despite the parking limits that would be created for non-residents, other areas would have been made available for those impacted, van de Hoek said.

“My opinion is that we need more studies and to collect more information on how the public is using the area,” he said.

Ballough explained that because parking is restricted for all vehicles after 10 p.m. on certain streets, residents were pushing to have permits so at least they would be allowed to park in the spots by their homes. Following the commission’s denial of the effort, Ballough said the city could choose to pursue a bill like one proposed by Assemblyman Ted Lieu to remove the commission’s jurisdiction on the issue, or take legal action.

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