Concerned that needed projects in Venice could fall victim to Los Angeles’ budget crisis, City Councilman Bill Rosendahl has called for funding to be allocated from a trust fund account to cover various Venice projects and programs, as well as to partially support an overnight parking program for people living in their vehicles.

Rosendahl introduced two motions last month for the transfer of funding from the Venice Area Surplus Real Property Fund that were approved by the City Council. The first motion allocates funds for projects such as the cleaning of Venice Beach bathrooms, maintenance of boardwalk recycle bins and the upgrade of the LAPD substation at the beach, while the second motion transfers funds toward a safe parking program for recreational vehicles.

The surplus real property trust fund contains monies collected from the sale of surplus city properties in Venice that can only be spent on projects within the beachside community. The Venice Neighborhood Council voted April 20th to support both of Rosendahl’s motions to use the funds for the various Venice-related efforts.

Among the funding allocations in the first motion are $182,900 for the Venice Beach Recreation Center, including monitors for implementing the boardwalk ordinance; $76,000 for steam cleaning and maintenance of beach bathrooms; $237,000 for after-school programs at Penmar Recreation Center; and $75,000 for after-school care at Oakwood Recreation Center. In addition, $25,000 would be used to purchase and distribute safety equipment for the Venice Beach Skate Park.

The councilman also moved that $266,000 be reprogrammed within the trust fund for the proposed rehabilitation of the Venice Grand Canal, which already has $400,000 available, a spokesman for Rosendahl said. Rosendahl explained that these projects will provide special benefits to community residents and he wanted to ensure that their funding was not swept away as a result of the city’s serious budget crisis.

“These are efforts to enhance life in the Venice areaÖ and I figured if we don’t get on it now we might lose that money to the rest of the city’s issues,” Rosendahl said. “The people deserve the commitments that were given to them.”

Venice resident Linda Lucks, who was recently elected president of the neighborhood council, said she was pleased that the money will go specifically toward cleaning up parts of the beach, which has not had proper maintenance in recent years.

“Unfortunately attention has not been paid to Ocean Front Walk, which is the face of Los Angeles,” she said of the need for bathroom cleaning and other services. “I’m also supportive of restoring the Grand Canal, which is a long term project that’s going to benefit Venice.”

Under Rosendahl’s second motion, $190,000 from the real property trust fund would be allocated to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority to conduct a comprehensive homeless services program in his 11th Council District. Funding would also be used from the street furniture revenue fund ($90,000) and the general city purposes fund ($20,000). The program, which is modeled after efforts in Santa Barbara and Eugene, Oregon, would create designated lots where people living in vehicles could park overnight lawfully, have access to services and begin the transition into housing.

The councilman additionally called for $450,000 of the trust fund to be transferred to the homeless services authority for the program specifically serving Venice. In a letter explaining his motions to constituents, Rosendahl said he has backed a “carrot and stick” approach to the issue, noting that he hopes to provide shelter and services to those who need it while having a tool to force out vehicle dwellers who don’t require services.

“This would be a way for us to successfully be able to deal with these people and do something meaningful for them and the community,” Rosendahl said of the safe parking effort.

Some have criticized the use of Venice surplus real property account money to fund the overnight parking program in the 11th Council District. In a letter to Rosendahl last month, Mark Ryavec, president of the Venice Stakeholders Association, said while the association supports a vehicle to housing transition program, the allocation of funds to the homeless services authority does not represent a capital or non-capital project as required by the city’s administrative code.

“The administrative code requires that the net proceeds from the sale of any Venice properties shall be devoted exclusively to capital or non-capital projects generally within the ‘Venice area’ for purposes which will be of benefit to citizens of the City of Los Angeles or tourists to the Venice Beach area,” Ryavec wrote. “The intent of the ordinance establishing the (surplus fund) was to fund physical improvements from the sale of physical property, so as to not squander these rare assets.”

In Rosendahl’s letter to residents, he noted that the ordinance was initially restricted to capital projects but it was amended several years ago to allow broader uses. The money from the Venice surplus fund is only one of several sources for the parking plan, he said, as funding is also allocated from the street furniture revenue fund and the general city purposes fund.

Rosendahl, who stressed that the issue is not isolated to Venice, said he hopes that with the city moving forward on the program, it will influence the county to get involved.

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