California Coastal Commission rejects Venice parking restrictions


For the second year in a row, the California Coastal Commission has denied a request for overnight parking restrictions by Venice residents who have complained about people living in campers and cars on the streets.

The panel’s 6-3 vote Thursday also quashed a proposed settlement that the city of Los Angeles had hoped would resolve the divisive issue over how to deal with recreational vehicle dwellers, who some Venice residents contend bring noise, public inebriation, crime and litter.

Under the proposed settlement, residents could have asked the city to post signs prohibiting oversize vehicles. If, after six months, residents were not satisfied with results, they could have applied for overnight parking restrictions. The settlement had been negotiated by the coastal panel’s staff, the city and the Venice Stakeholders Assn., a group that had challenged the coastal panel and the city in court.

Mark Ryavec, president of Venice Stakeholders, called the commission’s action a “ ‘bait-and-switch’ trick that is reprehensible in a public body.” He added that “our only recourse is to remove overnight parking in Venice from this arrogant body’s jurisdiction by renewing our litigation.”

But Commissioner Sara Wan said the commission’s vote was justified.

“We were essentially rehearing the original permit requests,” Wan said. “What the city was trying to do was use preferential parking to solve their social problems. They need to deal with their own social problems.”

The commission raised the same argument a year ago when it voted against preferential parking.

Despite its staff’s role in helping to devise the proposed settlement, Wan said, the full panel had the discretion to reject it — and did so.

Some middle ground exists.

Linda Lucks, incoming president of the Venice Neighborhood Council, said that group “supports the adoption of an over-height limit ordinance in tandem with a safe overnight parking program.”

Such a program would be modeled on a successful effort in Santa Barbara, which provides secure overnight parking in church or other lots for RV dwellers who agreed to avail themselves of social services.

Karen Wolfe, a 12-year Venice resident and a member of Venice Action Alliance, a group seeking solutions to the community’s problems, said she was “thrilled” by the commission’s vote because she objected to the prospect that residents would have to buy preferential parking permits. “I think they’re a regressive tax,” she said.

Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who represents the area, said he was disappointed by the commission’s rejection of the proposed settlement. But he said he hoped that the full City Council soon would approve his proposal that oversize vehicles be defined as those taller than 7 feet or longer than 22 feet.

If approved, he said, that new law could be in place by Sept. 1 and the city could post “No Oversize Vehicles” signs where needed by November.