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Venice resident shocked by flier he sees as racist

April 15, 2009 |  7:00 am

Scott Kawahara lives with his family in Venice, in part because he says the Westside community is progressive and tolerant. So he was upset when someone left a flier on his 1990 Honda Civic last Friday threatening to tow it.

“Habla Ingles?” the flier said. “FINAL WARNING .... No junk car parking on our street.”

Kawahara, 42, a Marine reservist who served two tours in Iraq, said he viewed the fliers as insulting and racist.

“I was shocked and amazed that someone put something like that in a neighborhood like Venice,” he said Tuesday. “To me, it’s racist.”

In recent weeks, someone has been leaving fliers on cars and in yards in the Oakwood, Millwood and Walk Street neighborhoods of Venice threatening action against residents for allegedly having shabby lawns, having barking dogs or parking junk vehicles on the street. The fliers say they are from the Venice Stakeholders Assn. and list its president, Mark Ryavec.

Ryavec said Tuesday that neither he nor his group has any connection to the fliers. He said he believes the notices are intended to discredit him and his efforts to rally residents to prevent homeless people from sleeping overnight in their vehicles. 

“We don’t have anything to do with this,” Ryavec said. “I think that these fraudulent fliers are an attempt to harm my reputation personally and also to harm the credibility of the Venice Stakeholders Assn.”

Ryavec has been a leader in the effort to establish five overnight parking zones in and near Venice because the neighborhood has become a magnet for people who live in their cars, campers and recreational vehicles.

The parking proposal, which is supported by the city, faces a key hearing in June, when the California Coastal Commission is scheduled to take public testimony before deciding whether to approve the districts. The commission must decide whether restricted parking areas will hinder public access to the beach.

In a non-binding neighborhood election, Venice residents recently voted overwhelmingly to support the parking zones.
Ryavec said that he contacted the city attorney’s office about the fliers and that lawyers there suggested  he hire a private attorney to investigate. “I can’t do anything when I don’t know who did it,” he said.

-- Robert J. Lopez


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