By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Neil Stratton, a local homeowner who launched a successful skateboard company from his house, opposes Rosendahl’s view that making residents pay to park on their own streets is the cost of getting rid of the campers. “Isn’t it part of civil rights to be able to park your car on the street?”
Stratton is bothered that under the Rosendahl plan, Venice residents must appear at City Hall’s Department of Transportation in person and hand over extensive ID to the bureaucracy: proof of residency, and registration for all cars the household might park on the street. For any friends or relatives who might drive over to visit them, residents would have to pay extra.
It gets far more complicated than that. Thousands of Venice residents live on picturesque “walk streets” with sidewalks only — no roads, and nowhere to park. They instead park in three nearby city lots. But under Rosendahl’s preferential-permit plan, the Coastal Commission is worried that tourists, surfers and other beachgoers will lose parking and thus access. So Rosendahl is proposing to take away the three lots used by “walk street” residents, making them open to beach visitors. Thanks to a technical loophole, although they may lose their longtime parking, the walk street residents can’t even vote on the preferential-parking idea.
The truth is, none of this drama and deal-making is necessary to banish the Winnebagos. An existing city code is tailor-made for preventing R.V. parking on Los Angeles streets. It allows Rosendahl and the City Council to bar the campers — without special permits or horse-trading with the Coastal Commission.
Jim Bickhart, a 40-year resident of the area who filed an appeal against the parking-district plan with the Coastal Commission, notes, “The city has an existing law that allows the control of oversized vehicles.”
And in fact, Section 80.69.4 (a) of the city code prohibits oversize vehicles from parking between 2 and 6 a.m. All the city has to do is post signs where R.V.s are being parked.
Alan Willis, a city transportation engineer, says the signs won’t affect those using handicapped stickers, or stop anyone from sleeping in a regular car. But as resident Jason Saville notes, “Sleeping in a car is already illegal.”
Saville had been a big supporter of the proposed parking zones — until he heard that Rosendahl could merely have anti-R.V. signs posted. The same goes for Schonbrun, the attorney, once he finally heard about the anti-R.V. code from L.A. Weekly.
“What I would like to avoid is the unsanitary conditions,” Schonbrun says, but a preferential-parking district “creates an exclusivity” that is an anathema to Venice.
Bailey believes that Rosendahl and city bureaucrats are pushing the tough decisions onto Venice residents. “We could have easily just enforced what was on the books — why go through all this?” she asks. “[Politicians] are making the residents come up with another way, so they’re not the bad guys. We’re the ones who are the bad guys, and unsympathetic.”
Like others, skateboard-company founder Stratton has had a lot of negative interactions with the Venice homeless. But he also thinks about an elderly woman parked in front of his home in early May. Her camper seemed like “an old woman’s retirement home, but you could see that she was clearly destitute and homeless” — if neat and clean. “She was old and infirm and my heart went out to her.” She spent one night in front of Stratton’s home. The next day she was gone.
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