Though prompted by some residents, the Mar Vista Community Council chose not to take a stand against a planned location for a vehicle to housing program just outside of its boundaries.
The community council voted 9-3 at its June 14 meeting to not support a motion from its Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to oppose the use of the Penmar Golf Course parking lot for the proposed Roadmap to Housing program.
Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl has proposed the use of the Penmar lot on Rose Avenue in Venice as one of the locations for the vehicle to housing initiative, in addition to his 11th Council District office parking lots in Westchester and West Los Angeles. The program is designed to allow people living in vehicles who are participants in the initiative to park safely overnight in designated lots as they transition into permanent housing.
Under the program, which will be managed by People Assisting the Homeless (PATH), a maximum of eight RVs can park on the three public lots between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m.
The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee recommendation was brought to the Mar Vista Community Council after some residents living near the proposed Venice site expressed some concerns regarding safety and security issues with the use of the parking lot.
Chuck Ray, a co-chair of the committee, said much of the Mar Vista residents’ concerns had to do with them not being fully informed of the program regulations and its potential impacts in an area that is right near the community’s boundaries.
“First and foremost, they felt that because the parking lot is visible from the border of the Mar Vista Community Council, it is an issue of importance to the Mar Vista community as well as the Venice community,” Ray said.
He added that some argued they were not directly notified of the selection of the Penmar property, and once they learned about it, they had concerns about the oversight that would be provided and possible impacts on the neighborhood.
The outreach director for PATH has said that an overnight security team will work each of the sites and various rules will be in place for the participants.
Community Council Chair Albert Olson said one concern was that the smaller Penmar lot does not seem to be an adequate size space compared to the Westchester and West L.A. sites. Accommodating up to eight RVs could take up a good portion of the space, creating a problem for users of the lot as well as potential visual effects, he said.
Rosendahl added Penmar as an option after attending Venice community meetings where speakers and neighborhood council members said that Venice, as the local community most impacted by the vehicular living issue, must take part in the housing program by offering a parking site.
“It became very clear to me after being here in Venice that we need to find some form of support in Venice,” Rosendahl said after the community meetings.
The Venice Neighborhood Council voted to support the recommendation despite concerns from several Penmar neighborhood residents, who argued that they received short notice and the golf course lot was not the right location for the program.
The issue of parking locations for Roadmap to Housing has also faced opposition in Westchester, where residents voiced concerns about the use of the city-owned lot, which also serves Westchester Park. The Neighborhood Council of Westchester-Playa supported the proposal with conditions including that a Venice parking lot be included.
In response to inquiries about why the Penmar lot was chosen for Venice, Rosendahl chief of staff Mike Bonin said that in discussions with police about possible sites, it was determined that Penmar had the greatest distance from residences.
Olson believes that despite the concerns of some Mar Vista stakeholders, his council voted not to oppose the Penmar option because they are largely in favor of the program’s goals overall.
“I think they wanted to show their support of that by not doing anything that could be construed as opposition,” he said. “Personally I think the program is great.”
Ray, who said many of those who opposed the Penmar selection did not attend the June 14 meeting, is also supportive of the program’s mission.
“Personally I would like to do everything possible to support the Roadmap to Homes program,” he said.
But he also hopes that efforts will be put in place to mitigate some of the community’s concerns and to have a periodic review of how the program is running.