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Parking agreement targets campers and 'oversize' vehicle parking at Venice Beach

May 25, 2010 |  6:07 pm

Venice residents, the California Coastal Commission and the city of Los Angeles have given tentative approval to a restriction on parking near Venice Beach, where residents have complained about people living in cars and campers.

Under the settlement, which must be approved by the Los Angeles City Council and the coastal panel, the city would post “No Oversize Vehicle” signs for six months. If those signs don’t resolve the problem to residents’ satisfaction, the residents would then be allowed to apply for overnight parking restrictions.

The settlement would offer a test of the city’s new oversize vehicle ordinance by prohibiting vehicles taller than 7 feet from parking on the street from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m.

“We are open to trying the new ordinance to see if it solves the problem,” said Mark Ryavec, a Venice activist who pushed for restricted parking. “In some areas it might work better than others. None of us really want to have to get permits and pay for them, if the oversize vehicle ordinance works.”

The agreement appears to resolve a heated conflict that has divided the Venice community for years. Many residents have complained that vehicle dwellers bring late-night noise, public inebriation, crime, litter and dumping of raw sewage into yards, alleys and storm drains. Those residents have spent years drumming up support for overnight parking restrictions.

Opponents said that restrictions would limit beach access and were an effort to make criminals of those who live in their vehicles.

The coastal agency’s staff had recommended that permit parking zones be approved but commissioners in June 2009 rebuffed the idea, contending that they were being asked to resolve a social issue rather than a beach access issue.

Last August, a group called the Venice Stakeholders Assn., which Ryavec heads, sued the coastal panel in Los Angeles County Superior Court to raise a fundamental issue: Does the panel have the legal authority to determine where people can and cannot park in coastal areas?

City law prohibits living in vehicles, but related ordinances have been difficult to enforce, partly because of limited police resources and partly because it is difficult to establish that people are actually living in their cars and campers.

Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who represents Venice, said the bigger issue is: “The city needs to address the car and camper issue.” Rosendahl said he plans to push for safe overnight parking zones like those in Santa Barbara, where people with driver’s licenses, car registrations and insurance are allowed to park and receive social services.

-- Martha Groves