Venice: Third time not the charm for city as coastal board again denies overnight parking limits

Posted June 20, 2013 by The Argonaut in News
By Vince Echavaria
For the third time, the California Coastal Commission has rejected a push by the city of Los Angeles to implement overnight parking restrictions on Venice streets.
With a majority of new members since the last time the commission took up the controversial issue, the board voted unanimously June 13 to deny the city’s request for overnight parking district permits. The commission, which oversees issues impacting the state’s coastline, previously shot down such permit requests in 2009 and 2010.
At stake was a tentative settlement agreement between the commission, city and Venice Stakeholders Association, which sued the coastal board over its prior denial of OPDs.
As with its two prior votes, the commission denied its staff recommendation for approval of the permits that would allow for parking restrictions on streets west of Lincoln Boulevard and near Marina del Rey. If approved, the OPDs would have been established between 2 and 5 a.m. on a block by block basis where at least two-thirds of residents voted to implement them.
Proponents argued that the parking limits are needed to preserve parking for residents on streets where spaces are occupied by those living in vehicles, visitors travelling out of Los Angeles International Airport, hotel guests and boardwalk vendors.
The issue reached a flashpoint in 2009-10 as proponents sought the parking districts as a potential solution to an influx of people living in recreational vehicles that were lining streets in the beachside community. Much of the problem was lessened following the placement of oversize vehicle parking restrictions, but proponents say the concerns remain.
Mark Ryavec, president of the Venice Stakeholders Association, a major supporter of the parking districts, argued that on its third try before the commission, the city was unable to make its case for approval of the permit request.
“The city completely fumbled its responsibility to defend the permit application,” Ryavec said.
Opponents of OPDs have argued that they should not be sought as a solution to homeless issues and that they would push the parking problems to other areas.
Despite the commission’s actions in 2009-10, Venice resident David Ewing said opponents didn’t know what to expect, considering the different make-up of the board.
“It came as a very happy surprise,” Ewing, a member of the Venice Action Alliance, said of the vote. “Our goal was to present the full array of legitimate arguments why OPDs are a bad idea in Venice, and I think we succeeded. The commissioners understood how ill-prepared the city is to go forward with this idea, and most importantly, they understood that OPDs are a solution in search of a problem.”
As part of its application, the city proposed various measures to mitigate the permit parking program’s impacts on public parking in the early morning. City staff identified 357 spaces in six city parking lots that would be available before 4 a.m., as well as 351 street spaces within three blocks of the beach that would be exempt from the restrictions.
In addition, the city proposed to establish a new bicycle share program and new bicycle lanes on several streets.
Noting the commission’s concerns about coastal access impacts, Coastal Commission senior deputy director Jack Ainsworth said staff believed that the mitigation measures were “more than adequate” to ensure access is protected in the early morning hours.
But opponents, some wearing “NOPD” stickers, reiterated their objections to enforcing overnight parking limits in the coastal community.
“OPDs do not solve the parking problems, they just push the problems onto their neighbors,” resident Andy Layman said.
Steve Clare, executive director of the Venice Community Housing Corporation, said the city has not provided a comprehensive parking study to defend its case in favor of OPDs and assess the extent of their impact.
For Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who is leaving office at the end of the month, the yearslong effort to implement OPDs was about “fairness,” as other coastal communities have had parking districts approved, but he said Venice has not.
Rosendahl acknowledged that the commission has spoken on the issue and he hopes to focus on positive projects being done for Venice like the upcoming summer zipline on the boardwalk.
“Obviously the Coastal Commission and I disagree,” the councilman said. “Now it’s time for the community to come up with creative solutions that I believe could include public valets, bike valets, bike corrals, bike racks, improved access to public transportation, things supported in the past.”
Some other supporters had also hoped that the commission would afford them the same rights to overnight parking restrictions that other beach communities have received.
“This is just a matter of giving us the right to do this,” resident Stewart Oscars told the commission.
In the end, some commissioners said they were reluctant to approve the permits because the city had not conducted a parking study to determine the demand for early morning restrictions and that the city could have addressed much of its problems by approving a new Local Coastal Plan.
“There is not enough analysis here; I believe the burden of proof is on the city to show that this is necessary,” Commissioner Esther Sanchez said.
Commissioner Dayna Bochco believed the city put itself in its position because it does not have a certified LCP. Commission Chair Mary Shallenberger agreed, saying, “So many of the issues we heard before us today should have been grappled with in the process of doing an LCP, but they weren’t. I do hope the city decides that it would be worth it for them to do an LCP.”
Ryavec said the stakeholders association is weighing its options on whether to proceed with the legal challenge in court, but he will no longer seek a settlement agreement with the commission.



    Good article, but it leaves out one huge factor that made a mockery of the coastal access mitigations the city was offering. The city has had an illegal curfew on the beach for 24 years. So all the parking spaces in the world would give the public zero access to the beach during the OPD hours. They were pretend mitigations. Anyone who tried to use them to go to the beach would end up cited or arrested.

    The city was notified back in 2010 that the curfew was illegal. Its response was to extend the curfew to the boardwalk as well at the beginning of 2012. It ticketed beachgoers with the knowledge that the citations would be dismissed in court.

    So the Venice Stakeholders Association’s and the city’s claim that plenty of mitigations were provided was a cynical ploy. The Coastal Commission is largely made up of City and County officials from up and down the coast. They are sympathetic to the problems faced by a fellow municipality, but they also know when something doesn’t smell right.

    David Busch

    One notable reason given by the Coastal Commission for turning down the proposed legal settlement with the city of Los Angeles, and the Venice Stakeholders Association — is that the whole argument of comparing Venice to other communities that have OPDs is, that unlike Venice, those other cities also have huge parking facilities.

    So if, like our dear friend Councilman Rosendahl and the “Stakeholders” — you are going to argue OPDs are “fair” for Venice — then you also have to make a fair comparison; but which will not be possible until Venice has the same amount of public parking lots, as say, in this case, Santa Monica.

    Further — if the city of Los Angeles persists in this misbegotten pursuit of gentrifying Venice, I just also certainly hope a judge in the case will have facts before them regarding all the recent loss of beach parking in Venice due to the expansion of so many expensive restaurants, shops, and bars — that have been put in here without the legally-required adequate parking. I hear the “residents” complaining a lot about that in Venice these days.

    Sadly, Mark Ryavec — his shadowy cohorts and their pliable servants who got themselves lodged in government, and the LAPD — seem to have no concern about this. But rather, only in vilifying homeless people, poor artists, youth travelers hitchhiking up and down the coast; disabled people with legal rights to park their vehicles in ways that accommodate their handicaps, and former lifelong residents now living in vehicles here; and who helped make Venice the world famous place it is — long before Ryavec and his schemers decided that they were going to try to take Venice, a proud community of incredible diversity, creativity and human spirit — and seek to mash it into some little StepfordGoogleVille:

    Complete with gigantic Binoculars, internet domination — and its hermetically-sealed Google-employees to spy on us all.

    David Busch

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