Overnight parking

RVs parked on 7th Street in Venice in 2009. Some activists have ended their years-long legal battle to restrict overnight parking in the city. (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times / January 20, 2009)

Some Venice activists have ended their years-long legal battle to restrict overnight parking in the coastal community, which has struggled over how to deal with the divisive issue of people living in campers and cars.
 
After Los Angeles Councilman Mike Bonin’s office declined to offer any support for the effort, an attorney representing the Venice Stakeholders Assn. said the group dropped a suit seeking  “overnight parking districts” in areas near the beach.
 
The case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court in 2009, when the California Coastal Commission first denied the city’s application for restricted parking on the grounds that it would impede public access to Venice Beach between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. The Venice Stakeholders Assn. filed suit. The city joined the suit, then withdrew last year after the coastal agency denied overnight parking districts for a third time.
 
The case was stayed for nearly four years while the parties attempted to reach a settlement. Coastal commissioners heard testimony by homeless advocates and transients, as well as residents who objected to the prospect of having to pay for preferential parking permits.
 
In the meantime, the community has gone through a marked transition. The city’s decision to enforce rules against parking oversize vehicles overnight helped calm concerns over noise, public inebriation, crime and litter resulting from RV dwellers.
 
“As far as just the issue of campers and RVs, I’d say it’s been 85% effective,” said Mark Ryavec, president of the Venice Stakeholders group.

He added, however, that the city has failed to install signs noting the limit on oversize vehicles on some streets. Meanwhile, residents are increasingly finding it difficult to park in their neighborhoods because of the influx of visitors to Abbot Kinney Boulevard. 
 
Opponents of overnight parking restrictions hailed the decision to drop the suit.

“This is a big victory for diversity and access,” said Steve Clare of Venice Community Housing Corp. “OPDs would have restricted visitors’ access to the coastal community … by making it more costly and inconvenient for visitors -- and residents -- to park on public streets.”
 
David Ewing with Venice Action Alliance said overnight parking districts “were like using a sledgehammer on a housefly. Those who wanted to drive out the ‘motor homeless’ promptly found other methods. There was no reason to drag this lawsuit out for four years.”

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martha.groves@latimes.com