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Segment | Culture

The Battle for Venice

For years, the Los Angeles beachside community of Venice has been a magnet for the so-called "vehicular homeless." These are people who park in residential and commercial neighborhoods and live long term in their recreational vehicles, vans and cars. The motor-homeless say they have no place else to go and only want to be left alone. Correspondent Vince Gonzales reports many Venice residents say the vehicle dwellers are turning their community into skidrow by the sea.

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For the record, I'm not a real estate owner and don't live in a beach community. I think the producers were too diplomatic on this subject and didn't ask the homeless the hard question - aren't you simply squatting on high-priced real estate? Let's face it, I highly doubt San Bernardino or Moreno Valley, which have been hit hard by the bubble burst, have the same problem with people living in their vehicles.

While I feel for the homeless, they've chosen to take advantage of lax parking rules in order live somewhere they could not afford even if they had jobs. Those that can afford to live in Venice or Santa Barbara have every right to be mad about the homeless because squatters have no investment in the community. Although it's tragedy the woman featured lost her young daughter, she has been living rent and property tax-free for 5 yrs, yet says she'll eventually move back into an apartment or home. Prior to that, she said living in her RV has become normal and that it's much easier. That contradiction demonstrates that she's willing to live on the fringe as long as allowed by law.

It's in every city's best interest to regulate the homeless population. And by homeless, I mean those with no shelter, living out of shopping carts. If you purchased an RV, pay registration allowing you to park on public roads, and have invested in a generator, you have made conscious, long term plans which should disallow you from any homeless benefits. Cities should merely tax the car dwellers, effectively charging them rent - this would force upon them a real choice as to how and where they want to live.

I've been hit by the economic downturn also and am currently unemployed, but I've always made sure to plan ahead so that I could keep a roof over my head. It's wrong to reward people who exploit loopholes by allowing them to live in a high-priced beach community.

I live near the corner of Rose and 6th in Venice - featured a few times in this short.

I'd like to thank the producers for shedding some light on this serious issue but this was a far too soft approach to the problem.

The production should have shown the deranged, strung-out lunatics who fight, party, have sex, shoot drugs and drink booze and pass out on the street. The production should have shown someone dump a bucket of human feces onto a lawn or into the street - people need to see what that actually looks like and its impact.

The communities surrounding Venice are happy to let Venice bear this burden. One can't imagine a line of RVs and drug addicts camping out on Montana Avenue.

The most important issue is that these are not the working poor. You don't recognize these people because they work at the checkout at CVS. You recognize them because they've been living and selling drugs and prostituting themselves in the parking space around the corner from your house - for years.

If they were really interested in just finding an affordable place to live, they'd be in Pittsburgh, not Venice Beach.

All neighborhoods deserve to be policed with the same laws - it's time for the LAPD to start enforcing these laws in equal proportion to the way the streets are policed in Westwood or Brentwood.

So, it all comes down to "squatting on high-priced real estate"? The last time I checked, the streets are public and should remain so. One of the biggest problems we face with some realtors, property owners and developers is that they want to own the streets too!!!! They see a piece of land, albeit public or private and they want it - take Venice boardwalk for example, a public forum that is being turned into a commercial zone by L.A. City in preparation for the take-over by developers being planned behind closed doors.

If the affordable housing in Venice had not been bought up by developers we would still be able to house low-income people. Many of whom have been forced to live in their vehicles or move out of Venice. Why should only wealthy people be able to live at the beach? It's time we took back our public streets and public spaces, to preserve them for future generations.

Really, It is unbelievable that Anyone would assume to play God and tell the Homeless they they cannot live or park their vehicle by the beach! We live in a free country! The homeless are not welcome in any community! at least by the beach they can shower and use bathroom facilities for free!
I have lived in Venice for 20 yrs, we should be addressing the tourist and the heap of trash and their lack of respect for our community,
I have to clean up after tourist far more then the homeless, and the tourist and all their trash are just as much of an eye sore. This is how we take care of our own in America, everyone who chooses to turn a blind eye and disregard the homeless should be ashamed of themselves! the arrogance that the rich belong and the poor do not makes me sick!

RV's are a social problem that should be solved with the political will of Councilman Rosendahl to follow the path of Santa Barbara which found safe parking places for RV's and car dwellers. Instead, he is asking all residents of Venice to pay for overnight parking places, raising our taxes for City sent downtown with no guarantee of finding a spot. He is taking a sledgehammer approach to a specific problem that can be solved quickly: by signs limiting parking for over size behicles and not charging us all to pay. This is a blatant attempt to privatize our streets under the ruse of getting rid of RV's. It is a lie.

this is not about parking. it never was. i have lived in venice long before the gentrification started. there was no problem with parking. there was a ton of RVs.

then venice started to change. abbott kinney became the must be seen spot. parking became horrible. the first friday of every month when most of the stores on abbott kinney have an open house, the streets around abbott kinney are packed with cars. imagine this, someone like me who just fought an hour or more of friday LA traffic arrives home only to drive around for another 30 mins looking for parking because THE OTHER ROOM valets decide to park on your street. then the patrons of that and other neighbouring restuarants decide to walk around pleasantly imbibed ranting and raving happily of course at 2 in the morning. i have stuck my head out of the window to see who it is exactly that is doing the screaming. it has never been someone in jeans and sweats but always well groomed, well heeled prada dressed angelinos.

i was given a petition to sign that would give back parking to the residents. i was all for it. however, the petitioners kept going on and on about the RVs and 2am to 6am no parking zone. who cares about the RVs? they have been in venice for over 30 years, even before the real estate developers convinced the city that they were going to be building HUD housing and instead built the million dollars lofts on Electric Ave and 5th Ave. there never hindered the parking. they might have been dirty, but hell the homeless are dirtier. last month of this year, i saw a homeless pull his pants and do his business. this was in broad daylight at windward circle by the bus stop in front of the post office on a saturday. nothing stopped this man from doing his stuff in spite of all the cops, tourists, locals, etc etc. nothing!!!!

if you want to keep the streets cleaner, go after them. RVs are not going to solve even half the issue. now if it is parking that you want, venice should have santa monica or hollywood has. no parking for anybody anytime except from 8am to 6pm. every other time you better have a permit. i would sign any petition that would let me show up home and actually find a parking spot in five minutes. venice has become a parking nightmare ever since abbott kinney exploded with the gentrification.

if you want venice clean, start with the homeless and ditch the bohemian attitudes. do not be hypocritical. if you want to deal with parking, stop bitching about the RVs and start dealing with those that visit abbott kinney blvd, the valets, the hourly weekend warriors that end up yas, etc.

Two years ago, I was asked by the president of the Venice Neighborhood Council to chair a task force to study possible solutions to the RV situation in Venice. Represented on the group were homeowners, the neighborhood council board, and non-profit agencies providing homeless services in the community. We conducted an in-depth study of programs for overnight parking of live-in vehicles in Santa Barbara and Eugene, Oregon, including extensive conversations with city officials and service providers. We found possible locations for parking, and developed an outline of a program that would provide screening, security, sanitation and counseling services. We identified several possible sources of private-sector funding for such a program.

Without ever speaking to me about the work of the task force, Mark Ryavec and others circulated a petition demanding that Councilman Rosendahl oppose any legalized overnight parking of live-in vehicles in Venice. Since representatives of the council office had been attending our meetings and participating in research and discussion, I expected this effort to be rejected and support expressed for continuation of our many hours of work. Instead, I was informed by neighborhood council president Mike Newhouse that the task force would be disbanded.

The fact of people living in vehicles on the streets clearly creates problems, and I'm very sympathetic with residents who are affected by those problems. When I was asked to chair the task force, I thought most people would support the idea of a place for RV's to park with security and sanitation facilities, but it became clear that the view of Mark Ryavec and others, including some members of the neighborhood council board, was that these vehicles should be gotten out of Venice, period.

Pushing a problem from one area to another is not a solution. Absurd ideas like creating a parking area for these vehicles at Zuma Beach or even Dockweiler Beach are not solutions. Informing people that housing is more affordable in Pittsburgh is not a solution. I wish Councilman Rosendahl luck in establishing a program like the one task force members spent so much volunteer effort on. But I'm not sure why some so-called community leaders won't just repeat their actions of the past, which is to do their utmost to sabotage the work.

It's not about the true homeless, listen to the voices of these urban campers, they stay in their vehicles because they are comfortable in their lifestyle. Anybody who is serious in committing to changing their lives, get clean, get help, can get it. There are all kinds of social services available in Venice and the immediate vicinity.

These folks are homeless by their actions and/or habits. There are programs out there to get them off the streets, they just have to be willing to follow the rules. And they don't follow the rules about hygiene, or public health laws by defecating, urinating, and leaving garbage that attract rodents in the streets in Venice, or the laws about living on the streets, or the 72 hour parking laws, or the drug or noise abatement, or virtually any other laws. They want to be left alone, but don't want to live with, respect, and be sanitary to their neighbors, like the rest of us do.

It's about the concentration of them in one area. Brentwood, Westchester, Playa Del Rey, and the Palisades have nice weather too and are under Councilman Rosendahl's control as well,so why aren't they spreading out there too? Is it about a covert effort by top funders to the Councilman to concentrate it all in Venice?

Councilman Rosendahl talks out of both sides of his mouth. In this piece he states he is trying to find parking lots for these people, and yet for years he has told us in the community that the parking lot idea can't be accomplished because of the potential liabilities. He knows that nearly every community that has tried it, has abandoned it. Why? When gathering places have been tried in other communities, somewhere, sometime, by the very nature of how these people exist, someone gets hurt. Beaten, stabbed, robbed or shot, it doesn’t make a difference, It happens, and then there is always some social justice organization waiting in the wings to sue like Peggy Lee Kennedy the Food Not Bombs activist in your piece, who nailed the City for a couple of hundred grand. That usually ends the programs. He know and has stated the City of Los Angeles would be held responsible most likely for any criminal action that would occur within a parking lot for the campers.
The councilman tells the police at public events to enforce the camping laws while behind the scenes he tries to get them to back off. Publicly the Councilman has stated he is conflicted with what to do. Really! The fact is, if he actually, truly wanted to end this, he would, but he hasn't. What happened to the urban camper pilot program Councilman Rosendahl created in homeless bastions of San Pedro and Brentwood?

So what is a community to do when their Councilman drags his feet like he is paralyzed? That's why the community has been forced to apply for the parking restrictions. It's not because they are any less bohemian, it's because they wonder what that smell is, can they and their children get any sleep as the gypsy campers party into the wee hours, or where did that fly come from that just landed on their patio table?

It's all about basic public health!


The California Coastal Commission Denied the Overnight Permit Parking Districts (OPDs) in Venice Coastal Zone.

Venice said NO to OPDs in the Venice Coastal Zone and the Coastal Commissioners listened.

On June 11, 2009 the California Coastal Commission rejected the Venice Coastal Application to create OPDs, which is a permit parking system being used to remove homeless people living in vehicles from areas throughout the City of Los Angeles.

The local press, including KCET So Cal Connected, has been covering the Venice RV and OPD issue routinely from the side of proponents of OPDS, but scores of Venice residents do not want the OPDs. Beachfront rental property owners, disenfranchised walkstreet residents, business owners, homeowners, renters, and RV dwellers all came to the Coastal Commission meeting to show opposition and state how the OPDs would adversely affect them or others.

Venice people do not want this permit parking program for a variety of reasons, which they proved by providing an incredible amount of public testimony that seemed like it would go on forever. A parade of more than a hundred concerned Venice personalities stepped up to the microphone and spoke against OPDs. The Coastal Commission Staff was forced to stop accepting speaker cards.

The organizations that have actively opposed OPDs are the Venice Justice Committee and Media Group, Venice Town Hall, Venice Community Housing Corporation, Los Angeles Colalition to End Hunger and Homelessness, Free Venice Beachhead, Venice United Methodist Church, Public Council Law Center, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.

Ultimately, the Coastal Commissioners were being asked to deal with homeless issues in Venice by approving an overnight permit parking program, enforced only between 2AM and 6AM, which excludes homeless people from gaining a permit.

The Commissioners voted 9 to 1 (with 1 abstention) to deny the Coastal Permit Application for the Venice area OPDs.

And the city of Los Angeles was sent back to the drawing board. Maybe they can come up with something more humane this time - other than simply driving homeless folks away from where the services.

Having rented in Venice since 1973 I've seen the area change a bit but not really that much. Parking for residents has always been a big problem. Many of the dwellings were built with little or no parking facilities, the streets are narrow and do not provide nearly enough parking spaces for all the residents, let alone the beach goers. The number of people living in RVs has increased over the last two decades, and given the pre-existing shortage of parking for residents, this had to lead to conflicts. The OPD idea might have been a poor one I don't know.

But this issue provides a brief glimpse into a much bigger problem that has developed in the community. There is a group of people who while apparantly impoverished are able to wield enormous power in the community through litigation and threats of litigation against City Government. If their actions impose upon other residents, they are given de facto license to do so by City Government. Even long time residents (not developers) simply cannot obtain help from the City with respect to common quality of life issues because the City will simply not enforce many of the same laws that it enforces in other neighborhoods of the City for fear of running into conflict with these people.

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