The city of Los Angeles and a Venice stakeholders group have renewed their legal challenges to the California Coastal Commission’s denial of permits for overnight parking restrictions in the Venice area.
Following the commission’s decision in June to reject permits for overnight parking districts (OPDs) for the second straight year, citing concerns of impacts to coastal access, the city and the Venice Stakeholders Association both filed a petition in Los Angeles Superior Court this month alleging that the commission does not have jurisdiction to approve or deny such permits.
The petitions continue the legal challenges filed by the two entities on the same issue one year earlier, stating that the city has the right to implement overnight parking restrictions to deal with problems associated with people living in their vehicles. The challenges come as the city is pursuing other solutions to the ongoing issue including the enforcement of overnight parking restrictions for oversize vehicles on city streets and the implementation of a program where those forced to live in their vehicles can park in designated lots and have access to services.
The Venice Stakeholders Association is not necessarily opposed to exploring the other options but believes the overnight parking districts, in which parking would be restricted except by permit between 2 and 6 a.m., are the most effective solution against RVs lining the streets, said John Henning, attorney for the association.
“We still believe that the best solution, and the one most likely to work and work as soon as possible, is OPDs,” Henning said. “This gets the cars actually off of the residential streets, where the (safe parking) program creates other places to park but it doesn’t guarantee that people won’t still park on residential streets.”
Through its complaint, the association is requesting the court to invalidate the commission’s June decision and declare that the state board lacks jurisdiction in issuing restricted parking permits. The plaintiff claims that a lack of jurisdiction exists on the basis that parking districts do not constitute “development,” Henning said.
Some concerns with the so called “Streets to Homes” program are that it would not provide enough spaces to accommodate the number of vehicles currently parking on Venice streets and it is not clear where the exact locations of the lots are going to be, the attorney said. He added that the association is in favor of restrictions for vehicles longer than 22 feet or taller than 7 feet but feels they are only a partial solution because many people live in smaller vehicles, such as cars and vans.
“The other solutions are helpful but they’re not necessarily enough to preclude the need for OPDs,” he said.
In filing its most recent petition, the city continued its challenge to the commission’s jurisdiction from last year and additionally charged that the board’s June decision is invalid. The city alleges that the commission did not make any findings in its decision and that it was not based on substantial evidence. Among other charges is that the coastal board allowed city opponents to emotionally and physically intimidate the commission into voting against the permits.
“While our petition raises many legal issues, in general we contend that the commission has no jurisdiction over the creation of parking districts or the regulation of parking generally, and that there was no evidence that anyone’s access to the shoreline would be impeded by the OPDs between 2 and 5/6 a.m., or any other time,” Los Angeles city attorney spokesman Frank Mateljan told The Argonaut.
Prior to their vote at the June meeting, some coastal commissioners maintained that they believe the parking limits would impact coastal access.
“I believe that this particular plan will adversely affect the public’s ability to get to the beach,” Commissioner Sara Wan said at the meeting.
Commissioner Richard Bloom, one of three members to vote in favor of the parking permits, said he was not surprised that the city is moving forward with its litigation but he is hopeful that an agreement can be made on the issue.
“At this point in time I don’t think there are any winners, or will there be, if the litigation has to move forward,” Bloom said. “I remain convinced that a reasonable compromise can be reached and I am committed to doing whatever I can to make that happen.”
Referring to the legal petitions, City Councilman Bill Rosendahl said he is no longer focusing on the Coastal Commission’s action, though he contends that people in his coastal district should have the same rights as other areas to implement parking restrictions.
“I think it’s a fairness issue,” Rosendahl said. “I don’t agree with the Coastal Commission on what they did both times, but I’m going to focus on solutions.”
The councilman explained that following the City Council’s approval of the oversize vehicle parking law, he will look to move ahead with the implementing ordinance to install signs on impacted streets after the council returns from this month’s recess. In addition, a final request for proposals for the safe parking lot program will soon be released to begin the process to select a vendor to operate the initiative, he said.