Residents can now begin petitioning for signs restricting the overnight parking of oversize vehicles in Los Angeles communities such as Venice, where the recent dumping of raw sewage onto streets was allegedly connected to a person living in an RV.
For years, residents in the coastal community have been calling for solutions to RVs and other large vehicles lining the streets, arguing that sewage was being dumped and leaking into storm drains, along with other neighborhood impacts. With the reporting of human waste emptied onto Fleet Street and Pacific Avenue, Third Street and Sunset Boulevard and Third Street and Rose Avenue in Venice last month, some residents say the concern has been thrust into the public spotlight.
“The city and the (California) Coastal Commission have consistently discounted our reports about the dumping and leaking (of raw sewage), and now we have a smoking gun,” said Mark Ryavec, president of the Venice Stakeholders Association.
Following the Coastal Commission’s denial of permits for overnight parking restrictions in June for the second straight year and the arrest of a mobile home resident in connection with last month’s dumping incident, the Venice Stakeholders Association insisted that City Councilman Bill Rosendahl make the petitions available for oversize vehicle parking restrictions. Though the City Council had approved an amended ordinance for such restrictions earlier last month, the association claimed that Rosendahl was delaying the petitions until an overnight safe parking program for the impacted vehicles could take effect.
But the councilman announced Aug. 30 that petitions are now available for residents, by a two-thirds vote on their respective block, to request signs restricting the parking of vehicles taller than 7 feet or longer than 22 feet between 2 and 6 a.m. Following the council’s approval of an implementing ordinance, Rosendahl said he would direct the Department of Transportation to install the signs on blocks where residents vote to have them. Owners of RVs will be able to pay a $10 fee per day to acquire a non-transferable, three-day permit to load or unload their vehicle.
The petitions are available at any of Rosendahl’s council district offices or on his Web site, www.councilmanrosendahl.com/.
Rosendahl, who has consistently argued that Venice residents should have the same rights as other areas to restrict overnight parking, said the oversize vehicle ordinance is one method that will help provide residents some relief from problems associated with people living in their vehicles.
“It’s a step; it’s not the ultimate solution,” he said.
“The California Coastal Commission has wrongly denied Venice the same parking restrictions other communities have. This is one of the few tools we have at our disposal.”
Members of the group Venice Action Alliance are among those who have supported oversize parking limits, but they have pushed for them to be in combination with a proposed program where impacted vehicles can park in designated lots if they follow certain regulations. Alliance member David Ewing said it will take some time for both solutions to take effect but he is hopeful they will be put in place in tandem.
Rosendahl called the RV dumping of waste onto streets, which was witnessed by a Venice neighborhood watch block captain, “simply intolerable.”
“This can’t be tolerated ever again. We’ve had enough with people who are irresponsible in their cars and campers,” the councilman said.
Rosendahl stressed that he is committed to making sure people have clean and safe neighborhoods, and those who are found to be emptying raw sewage onto city streets must be prosecuted.
City attorney spokesman Jenaro Batiz said the office is responding to “community outrage” over the Venice dumping by planning to file charges against the suspect arrested in connection with the incident. The office will investigate any similar cases that are submitted, he added.
“It is the intent of the city attorney to file charges against any mobile home dweller who is arrested on these types of offenses,” he said. “We want to be on top of this. We know it is a community concern and we think it’s a serious issue.”
Bureau of Sanitation assistant director Adel Hagekhalil said that after receiving calls Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 24, the bureau responded immediately with wastewater and stormwater crews and inspectors working until early the next morning to clean the affected streets. There was no evidence that the waste entered any storm drains at any of the locations, Rosendahl said.
Initial reports regarding the sewage were apparently made several days before the Bureau of Sanitation was called for clean-up, something Rosendahl said was upsetting. Resident Heidi Roberts, co-chair of the neighborhood council’s public safety committee, said she and some of her neighbors met with Rosendahl and informed him of the dumping days before the streets were finally cleaned up.
“(The city) is not enforcing the laws,” she claimed. “This is not a campground; it’s creating this transient, ‘anything goes’ community and the city is allowing it.
“It makes me question what the city’s intentions are.”
A deputy for Rosendahl countered that the information they received indicated that there was no standing water and the Los Angeles Police Department was addressing the issue.
In an effort to better respond to reports of waste dumping, Rosendahl has called for a working group of various agencies to work on developing a quicker and more transparent protocol for reporting, responding to and investigating such threats to public health. The group, which will first meet Thursday, Sept. 2, includes representatives of Rosendahl’s and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s offices, the city attorney, the Los Angeles police and fire departments and county health and sanitation officials.
“What I’m pleased with is that there will be a coordinated strategy going forward,” Rosendahl said.
Ryavec described the working group proposal as having the wrong focus, saying the issue is not about a quicker response time but rather finding ways to ban the vehicles from parking on residential streets.
“The real issue is that we have to get them away from the coast and out of these residential environments,” he said. “The focus needs to be on removing the vehicles so this won’t happen again.”
But Ewing countered that simply removing the vehicles from the streets would only force the problem onto another community.
“That’s not the answer to the dumping problem; it’s just moving the problem to someone else’s neighborhood,” he said. a