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VENICE OPDs ARE BACK! BUT WHY?

by Peggy Lee Kennedy Monday, May. 06, 2013 at 10:20 PM

Nasty Venice Anti-Homeless Gentrification Permit Parking Efforts Keep Coming Back.

The California Coastal Commission denied Overnight Parking Districts (OPDs) two years in a row and what has changed since are all the new Coastal Commissioners and the real reason behind the Venice OPDs has been virtually eliminated. We hope the new Commissioners will study the OPD denials from both June 2009 and again in June 2010 ( http://documents.coastal.ca.gov/reports/2010/6/Th14a-s-6-2010.pdf) and maybe even listen to our story to see why so many of us have fought all this time to keep Venice Beach Free and keep our Coastal Zone open to All.

This story does not exactly start here, but in June 2009 after the Venice OPDs were denied by the Coastal Commission, the Venice Stakeholder Association (VSAss) filed a lawsuit against the California Coastal Commission. The City of Los Angeles filed a cross complaint against the California Coastal Commission aligning itself with the VSAss - in favor of OPDs.

The main Venice OPD proponent and president of the VSAss is Mark Ryavec. He is the core person in favor of the OPDs and he has used his organization to keep his pro-OPD agenda alive via the lawsuits. The main reason for OPDs is to remove homeless people living in vehicles from Venice and to help make Venice a more exclusive community.

The OPD law is a Los Angeles Municipal Code (an ordinance) brought to life by Councilman Bill Rosendahl after he was first elected and seated in 2005. The intent of this parking permit system is and has always been to make it illegal for homeless people (or other alternative people) to park a vehicle between 2-6am in Venice, because the rules make it so they cannot get a permit.

Please note that Venice has considerable homeless and low income services, second only to Skid Row in Los Angeles County. The development of these outstanding and life essential services, such as the Venice Clinic, were based originally on the fact that Venice was where their clients lived - prior to the extreme gentrification of the last ten to fifteen years.

You may ask, “Why is the Coastal Commission dealing with such a huge social issue?” Well Venice is in the Coastal Zone, the OPD law is a parking restriction ordinance and parking equals coastal access. The Coastal Commission is supposed to protect coastal access for all via mandate of the Coastal Act. That is their job.

Even though the Coastal Commission Staff and Attorneys along with the City of LA and Mark Ryavec all reached a tentative settlement agreement to put in the Venice OPDs prior to the June 2010 Coastal Commission meeting, the Commission denied the OPDs for the second year in a row. Unfortunately, they did not deny the OPD application on its face based on the multiple problems that existed (and still do) with the process. These problems include the City’s Coastal Act violations of removing miles of free parking in the Venice Coastal Zone without a Coastal Development Permit (CDP), closing the Beach in Venice without a CDP, and – importantly - without providing the appropriate replacement parking.

In June 2010 the Commission appeared to directly weigh in on the social issue of homelessness by recommending that the City use other laws and law enforcement as a reason for denying the OPDs in Venice. The Coastal Commission 2010 Venice OPD decision findings state:

"If the City implemented oversize vehicle parking restrictions, the City and the Commission would be able to evaluate whether those restrictions are sufficient to alleviate the concerns of OPD proponents. Similarly, the City has police power authority to regulate sleeping in vehicles, littering, public intoxication and dumping. In addition, many of the problems cited as a basis for the OPD relate to the important social problem of homelessness. Programs targeted at providing adequate housing and other services for the homeless could help alleviate problems associated with the use of vehicles as housing. None of these measures would exclude the general public from parking on the streets that support coastal access." (http://documents.coastal.ca.gov/reports/2010/9/W25c-9-2010.pdf)

What happened next in Venice during the rest of 2010 is:

1) Councilman Rosendahl’s office (CD11) applied the Oversized Vehicle Ordinance widely in Venice,

2) The LAPD formed a special Venice task force that arrested/towed/terrorized most RV dwellers out of Venice (or from simply driving through Venice in an RV!),

3) A much publicized/anticipated Vehicle to Homes program never (ever) supplied one parking space in Venice for the displaced Venice vehicle dwellers,

4) And a federal lawsuit (Desertrain v City of Los Angeles) was filed regarding the civil rights violations incurred by the LAPD to Venice Vehicle Dwellers during the intense RV extermination efforts by the City at the end of 2010 in Venice (currently in the 9th circuit court of appeals).

The City has already dealt with, harshly and unconstitutionally, the issues of Vehicle dwellers in Venice.

It is also important to say that no recent assessment of the perceived problem has been made. There was a count done by LAHSA (Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority) with St Joseph Social Services prior to the 2010 RV elimination in Venice. The count was over 250 RVers. The entire intent of OPDs in Venice now is to remove any few remaining Vehicle dwellers or poor people unable to fit in to the OPD rules. It is excessive and no realistic compensation will be made for the displaced or for the walkstreet residents.

Furthermore, the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) allowed the City and the VSAss to present an extremely one-sided presentation at the April 2013 VNC Board meeting to promote this new settlement in favor of OPDs BUT now they are promoting daytime permit parking for Venice as an add on. (LA Transportation slide show http://www.venicenc.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/012213-VeniceNC-PPT-1.pdf )

At this April 2013 VNC Board meeting, the City Attorney’s office made a portion of the extremely one-sided presentation, specifically regarding how Venice OPDs have been processed by the City prior to it getting in front of the Coastal Commission in 2009. Ms. Usher obviously forgot that the original mandatory public hearing held by the LA City Engineering Department (actually done by a contractor hired by the Engineering Dept. who we paid for) was packed by Venice people opposed to the OPDs - yet they said the audio of that meeting was not usable. The Engineering Dept. rubber stamped the OPD application for Venice, which was followed with over one hundred appeals filed on the decision - a record number of appeals for anything in the City of LA. When the appeal went in front of the Board of Public Works, Venice showed up there to say no to OPDs. The LA Board of Public Works again rubber stamped the Venice OPDs while Rosendahl grandstanded how he would amend the law making it illegal to live in a vehicle.

That law (LAMC 85.02) Rosendahl said he would amend was later used to justify arresting people, towing away the only home people had and taking pets to the pound during the vehicle dweller removal of late 2010. BTW the LAPD did this all during the daytime. And it was not hard for the LAPD to find the RVs as the County had closed all the beach lots to any oversized vehicle just to help the City along with this horrible thing they did.

But back to the Coastal Commission complaints, which have been repeatedly submitted to the Coastal Commission staff regarding the City of Los Angeles violating the Coastal Act. One is because the City wrote and is enforcing a law closing the beach without applying for a Coastal Development Permit, which the Coastal Commission has asked the City to address. The City of LA thumbed their nose at the Coastal Commission’s attempt to resolve this.

Another complaint is for removing free street parking in the Venice Coastal Zone, effectively removing beach access to low income people wanting to visit the Beach. This complaint refers to an extraordinary amount of street parking (miles of possible free beach parking for low income inner-city people) which the City has placed restrictive parking signs on - without even considering a Coastal Permit or providing replacement parking.

1) This is a violation of, but not limited to, Coastal Act Section 30210 and Section 30211

2) This also violates the Venice Coastal Land Use Plan. The City of Los Angeles signed the Venice Coastal Land Use Plan in 2001, which agrees to replace parking on a one-to-one basis. But the city has only ignored this contract by continually removing parking in the Venice Coastal Zone, while restricting any extremely meager new parking through payment meter or time limits.

So one question is: Why is the Coastal Commission granting permits to a verified Violator of the Coastal Act?

The City of LA and the VSAss consistently claim that because all the other surrounding beach areas have permit parking in Coastal Zones, then so should Venice. That fact should be an extremely compelling reason to not allow any further permit parking that restricts or eliminates street parking until there is a study of the” cumulative effects” that permit and restrictive parking has had on low income people regarding access to the California Coastal Zones. Without knowing the cumulative consequences of permit parking, the Coastal Commission cannot know how years worth of patch work mitigations and unenforced blatant violations of the Coastal Act restricting public access to the coast has cumulated into. Recent CEQA finding have leaned in favor of requiring assessment of the cumulative effects of development. Unfortunately, Los Angeles Department of Transportation rubber stamps each and every permit parking as not requiring an EIR and saying that CEQA does not apply.

Even if beach area permit parking was to be applied in Venice similar to other beach cities, such as Santa Monica, then the City of Los Angeles should be required to supply similar amounts of parking to offset the lost parking. This simply has not been done and is not in this new convoluted proposed settlement that will be on the Coastal Commission agenda in June 2013.

Also, because the current OPD (settlement) issue is based on a lawsuit filed by VSAss, the community has been excluded from any real input regarding a 2013 development project denied by the CCC in 2009 and 2010, two years in a row with packed meetings filled with public members completely opposed to OPDs in Venice – each time. Furthermore, the City is promoting daytime permit parking now without any real proof of wide public support.

This is a continuation of more gentrification for Venice, but one thing that bugs is why so many people do nothing and do not see how they are next. If they get rid of the homeless and funky artists, do everything to remove the African American community, go after the low income housing, and allow development to remove all the mom and pop businesses – then who will be left?

OK, it’s happening, but let’s still come together to give them a hell of a fight to keep Venice Beach Free.

Venice needs you! Don’t let her down, please. We need to lobby the new Commissioners by writing them and going to the meeting in Long Beach in June.

Please email HumanRights@freevenice.org and ask to be put on the OPD action alert list and go to www.justice.wetnostril.net for updates, calls to action, and coming sample letters so you can tell them we do not want those OPDs.

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KEEP OUR STREETS FREE - NOPDS IN VENICE Spirit Of Venice Tuesday, May. 07, 2013 at 12:09 PM
MIKE NEWHOUSE VIDEO Spirit Of Venice Tuesday, May. 07, 2013 at 12:33 PM

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