Top Stories (The Argonaut news paper)

Venice: Residents say RVs parking overnight are turning some areas into a campground

(Created: Thursday, August 30, 2007 9:47 AM PDT)



Lining parts of Rose Avenue, west of Lincoln Boulevard in Venice, are vehicles that some neighbors say they've seen parked on the street for as long as days at a time.

At the center of the issue are recreational vehicles (RVs) which residents say take a spot on the street and don't move until they're required to, either by the street sweeping schedule or the 72-hour limit for vehicles staying in the same location.

To some neighbors, those stationary vehicles and others on Rose and other neighborhood streets west of Lincoln Boulevard are turning the areas into a campground.

The vehicles parked for lengthy periods of time have been an issue of concern for some Venice residents living west of Lincoln who claim they create unsanitary conditions and reduce the availability of parking in the neighborhood.


"Venice isn't a campground," said Richard Myers, a Venice Neighborhood Council member who lives on Rose Avenue.

The reason the vehicles are not budging, some residents say, is that there are currently no overnight parking restrictions on Venice streets west of Lincoln Boulevard.

Those streets are situated in an area under the jurisdiction of the California Coastal Commission, which does not want parking restrictions to inhibit beach access. While there are some existing overnight parking restrictions in Venice, they are in areas east of Lincoln and outside coastal commission jurisdiction.

"We want to provide maximum access to the beach for the people who want to park down there," said John Ainsworth, deputy director for the California Coastal Commission South Coast District.

But residents say they are even more frustrated at the issue because other surrounding coastal communities have overnight parking limits, while Venice does not.

The RVs lining neighborhood streets such as Rose Avenue are a main reason residents in the area say they are pushing city officials to work with the coastal commission in developing overnight parking restrictions, primarily between 2 and 6 a.m., on streets west of Lincoln.

Many RV occupants are sleeping in the vehicles overnight and leaving remnants of living on the street, such as trash and human waste, in the neighborhoods, some residents claim.

Other concerns expressed by neighbors include the alleged use and selling of drugs associated with the vehicles, creating issues of safety. Some claim the vehicle occupants are able to avoid getting cited for parking violations by moving only often enough and far enough to be considered not in the same place, as well as allegedly abusing handicapped placard regulations.

The vehicles seem to be parking on a host of western Venice streets, including those in the President's Row Neighborhood near Abbot Kinney Boulevard, but the "hub" of activity is on Rose Avenue, according to Neighborhood Council member Stewart Oscars.

"The greatest problem is on Rose Avenue, west of Lincoln," said Oscars, chair of the Neighborhood Council Overnight Parking District Ad Hoc Committee, which has been working on the issue for over a year.

For some residents, a big concern is not knowing who is staying in the parked vehicles.

"We have no idea who these people are," said resident Carolyn Ward.

Concerned residents have approached the Neighborhood Council about relocating the stationary vehicles by pursuing establishment of overnight parking limits in the areas.

But others have defended the situation of the RV residents, saying they are being treated like criminals when they, too, are actually community stakeholders who happen to be living in unfortunate circumstances.

"These are Venetians just like us," resident Jim Smith said at a Neighborhood Council meeting Tuesday, August 21st. "They need compassion and care.

"I think you should consider all of the stakeholders, not just the ones who are fortunate enough to afford their own house."

Peggy Lee Kennedy of Venice Food Not Bombs, an organization that helps feed the homeless, also argued for the people living in vehicles, saying they need help and that restricting overnight parking is not the answer to improving their situation.

"These people need help they're not just a bunch of criminals," Kennedy said at the Neighborhood Council meeting. "Permit parking and signs on streets do not solve homelessness."

Overnight parking restrictions near the coast are also important in dealing with safety in the community, as they can prevent potentially dangerous situations from occurring on the beach at night, Neighborhood Council president DeDe Audet said.

"By restricting parking it can help prevent people from engaging in risky activity at night," she said.

Frank Mateljan, a Los Angeles Office of the City Attorney spokesman, said the office has been working with the community on the overnight parking issue in Venice. The office prosecutes individuals lodging in their vehicles for municipal code violations, but lodging needs to be proved, he said.

Claudia Martin, City of Los Angeles neighborhood prosecutor for the local area, said she reviews complaints and information on the vehicles, such as the license plate number, description and location, and will file a citation if it meets the guidelines.

Venice Neighborhood Council members said they are working with representatives from City Councilman Bill Rosendahl's office to determine if establishing overnight parking districts is the best solution to the RV issue.

Mark Antonio Grant, Southern District director for Rosendahl, told the Neighborhood Council August 21st that permit programs can be established in coastal areas if the community submits an application for consideration. The application process could take as long as 18 months and cost the city approximately $30,000 for each of four proposed permit parking districts, Grant told the council.

Ainsworth noted that a coastal development permit application is required for any community that seeks overnight parking restrictions. As part of the application, the community is asked to provide documentation of problems occurring with vehicles parking overnight, he said.

The coastal commission must review the application to determine if overnight restrictions are justified, but Ainsworth said Venice may have a strong case.

"I think they have a pretty good rationale for why an overnight parking district is necessary in Venice," said Ainsworth, adding that the community has a "pretty significant problem" with overnight camping.

The coastal commission might have an issue with the community's proposal to restrict parking until 6 a.m., as beach users might want to be able to access the beach at that time, Ainsworth said.

According to Grant, Rosendahl is scheduled to address the overnight parking issue in Venice at a California Coastal Commission hearing Thursday, October 11th.

Neighborhood Council members are exploring other potential solutions to the parking issue, including allowing the RVs to park at empty lots.

Audet has also asked the council to consider a program similar to one that was established in Santa Barbara which aims to help people move from RVs into permanent housing.

The program utilizes paved parking lots of churches, nonprofit organizations, city and county facilities and industrial lots from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. and has reportedly moved dozens of people off the streets, she said.

"It looks like a great program," Audet said. "I think it's a reasonable way to assist people who don't have a proper place to park."

The Neighborhood Council considered sending a letter to Rosendahl to explore a similar program for Venice but voted to table the motion until the next council meeting for further review.




Reader's Comments:

David Busch wrote on Oct 6, 2007 10:47 AM:

" Renter's in Venice, look out your window: that "homeless" person, that Rv, is the best rent law you have. As soon as landlords and real estate developers can advertise Venice as a "virtually-gated community; where unlike the rest of LA, we've found a way to kick out all poor on the streets," Where do you think your rent will go next? How soon before they are looking for new excuses to evict you too --so they can up rents to the "new market rates." There are at least 20,000 people west of Lincoln, and only about 100 RV's camping there on the any given day. Landlord interests are the very ones that have pushed for the increased parking restrictions that are making it harder and harder to park. Now they want you to support their newest overnight parking rules that will not give you a new parking space here. They will entirely move you out. They will just force you to move out as soon as they can raise the rents as a result of this massive new gentrification, west of Lincoln, they are planning with this "resident" only parking. There is a way to stop gentrification. Keep Venice free. If you want relief, demand a removal of the restrictions they themselves put up in the last few years to push RV's off Washington. "


J. Silver wrote on Sep 26, 2007 2:00 AM:

" With needing a high FICO score to even be considered for just an apartment on the westside area of Los Angeles. No wonder people are trying to do their best to live with some kind of roof over their heads. If there was afordable housing, and fair landlords that would give people a chance, and more jobs to be able to pay for the rent. This would be little or no problem. "


Anne Raine wrote on Sep 15, 2007 12:33 PM:

" The problem with RV parking is also conspicuous in the area around Washington Boulevard west of Lincoln. It doesn't make sense to require people to pay for parking to visit the beach for the day (referring to the public parking lot adjacent to Venice Pier) and allow vacation homes to park overnight for free. I am not talking about the homeless here, I am talking about huge luxury RV's that descend upon this neighborhood on summer week-ends or 3 day holidays and, indeed, turn it into a campground. Even Pasadena, for the once a year Rose Parade, has restricted parking for RV's. "


Peggy Lee Kennedy wrote on Sep 13, 2007 7:22 PM:

" I think my quotes in the article are out of context. I made a public comment at the July 2007 neighborhood council just after Chris Williams, who called the people living in RVs a bunch of "Skitzos" and dangerous criminals. I thought that was far less than humane and just not true. Many people become "homeless" simply because we are having an affordable housing crisis and this is something to keep in mind! So many of us are just one paycheck away. But here are a few stats to chew on from the LA Housing Services Coalition... United States Homeless Statistics: Vets constitute 40% of the homeless population. 1 in every 5 homeless persons has a severe or persistent mental illness. 25% of the homeless nationwide are employed. Children under the age of 18 account for 39% of the homeless population. 42% of these are under the age of 5. 43% of the homeless population are women; 40% of these women are unaccompanied. 22% of homeless women claim domestic abuse as reason for homelessness. 25% of these claim to have been abused within the past year. Families with children comprise 33% of the homeless population. "


WR wrote on Sep 6, 2007 1:20 PM:

" It's hard to feel pity for Venice residents when they complain about the "nomads," "free-living," "flower children," "don't want to work" crowd living in motor homes and RV's around the Venice Area. After all, Venice has been an anti-establishment, anti-government, free-will place since the 60's. You reap what you sow. What other place in Los Angeles is the perfect gathering place for these "mobile residents"??? Venice, of course. As another writer said, you don't find these types of problems in Pacific Palisades, Palos Verdes Estates, or Malibu. The rule of law is respected at these places and the residents DEMAND action on the part of the police and government representatives. The law has always been eschewed and ingored in Venice and until that changes, complaints will be nothing but hot air. Enjoy! "


Troy wrote on Sep 4, 2007 11:28 AM:

" "These are Venetians just like us" Really? I don't recall the fire sale on beat up RV's in the neighborhood in the last few years. Maybe I would have bought one myself and lived on Rose also. It would probably be cheaper than the rent I pay now. Living in your vehicle on the street does not make you a resident no matter how long you have been doing it. I'm tired of fighting for parking places on little Main street with the dozen guys that are living in their vans. To point out the obvious, if you need access to the beach at 2am you are up to no good. "


Paul T wrote on Aug 31, 2007 11:28 PM:

" Pacific Palisades is also in LA City but does not have this problem. Venice can not be the impromptu camp ground for all of Los Angeles. I have seen able bodied young men living in those campers for whom the carefree live seem to suite them. They have satellite TV, generators and apparently enough money to buy beer and cigarettes. [Others] can invite these unfortunates to park in their driveway and use their restroom if they want to help. There are very sound reasons to restrict lodging in vehicles and those laws should be enforced. paul "


Dorian Nguyen wrote on Aug 31, 2007 1:18 PM:

" Did not see in the RV parking story about the diesel and gasoline generators that run on the street or sidewalk, belching fumes and vibrating with noise pollution as well. If you get by the 6 bikes tied to one signpost, don't trip on the cables. Listen for the blaring music and TV (some satellite). Try entering/exiting the CVS lot with RVs blocking lines-of-sight. Saw a bicycler and baby in stroller almost hit by vehicles trying to make a turn near RVs. On 'Little" Main near Rose, an RV parks and runs via electrical cords laying on the sidewalk and street. I rent, not own, and try to walk, leaving my car in a paid monthly parking spot. Venice is polluted, but the RV parade continues belching. "


Steve Larson wrote on Aug 30, 2007 2:50 PM:

" This situation is not just on the West side of Lincoln Blvd. Morningside Way, Glyndon Ave., Penmar Ave. and Lake Street to name a few have RVs, Campers, buses and commercial trucks lining the streets day and night. They are not there for days but often weeks and months until someone calls the LA Abandoned Cars Hotline. The safety and well being of the tax paying property owners and citizens paying rent are jeopardized every time these vehicles are allowed to be left on the streets with stealth people living out of them. If these interlopers are confronted most will profane and threaten you. It is not a good situation. Yes, these are desparate people, but they belong in a controlled and monitored area such as Dockweiler RV Park. Mark Antonio Grant and the LAPD solutions are always get street parking restrictions. Why must local residents have parking permits to park in front of their own homes, when is is so obvious that these types of vehicles do not belong on residential streets. They are a blight and eyesore. More parking permit zones just moves the problem to another area of Venice until the local residents can stand it no longer. There should be a law that RVs, Campers, Buses, and Commerical Trucks should not be allowed overnight parking without a permit and a valid reason. This would put the onus of the problem where it belongs with those who want to usurp the general rights of those who have to pay to live in Venice. "


Barbara Peck wrote on Aug 30, 2007 1:27 PM:

" While it is true that some RV people are creating a nuisance with their various activities it pales in comparison to the developers who are rapidly taking over Venice, the high cost of renting or buying a property, increased traffic congestion, men urinating on the sidewalks when leaving the bars on Abbot Kinney late at night, commercial vending engulfing the Free Speech Zone on Venice boardwalk, and to cap it all the new "green" hotel that is planned for Abbot Kinney at Brooks. (Not to mention the crude statue at Venice circle which is awkwardly placed and totally lacking in artistic integrity.) There's plenty to complain about in Venice and the RV dwellers are the handiest targets for retribution. Isn't it time we got our priorities in order instead of blaming the victims of gentrification for our problems? "