Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Lawsuit Press Release

Venice Stakeholders Association Files Lawsuit to Allow Overnight Parking Districts in Venice

(Venice, CA/August 10, 2009) The Venice Stakeholders Association (VSA) will today file a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court to remove the California Coastal Commission from jurisdiction over overnight parking districts (OPDs) in Venice or, alternatively, compel approval of coastal development permits (CDPs) for such districts, to allow Venice residents to establish restricted parking on their streets from 2 AM to 6 AM by petition.

The suit identifies several instances when the Coastal Commission failed to follow the Coastal Act in its June denial of permits for overnight parking districts (OPDs) in Venice.

“The Coastal Commission has a legal mandate to protect coastal waters,” said Mark Ryavec, an officer of the VSA and 25-year coastal activist. “However, despite hearing of repeated instances of the owners of recreational vehicles leaking and/or dumping their sewage directly into yards, streets and storm drains, which drain directly to the ocean, the Commission failed to act to protect the coastal water.”

Noting that these vehicles should be in proper campgrounds with sewer connections, not on residential streets, Ryavec explained that the Commission would not allow apartment units to discharge sewage directly to the ocean. “Bizarrely, the Commission looked the other way when the issue of illegal discharges from RVs and campers was presented to them.”

The Coastal Act also requires the Commission to balance beach visitor needs with the quality of life of coastal residents. Ryavec said, “During its discussion of the matter, none of the Commission members made any effort to find that balance, even though its own staff had presented a balanced recommendation that significantly increased overnight parking for visitors.” The Commission rejected the staff recommendation out-right.

The most significant issue raised by the lawsuit is its conclusion that the Commission does not have legal authority over the OPDs in the first place and that no coastal development permits are required for overnight restricted parking.

“Santa Barbara, for example, bans RVs in the coastal zone and has never applied for a coastal development permit,” Ryavec said. “The key word here is ‘development.’ Parking restrictions and a few signs are not ‘development’ under the Coastal Act and they are not what the public thought it was adopting when we voted for the California Coastal Conservation Initiative in 1972.”

Ryavec noted that if CDPs are required for parking restrictions and street signs, then cities all along the coast are in violation of the Coastal Act for unpermitted signs that restrict parking for street sweeping and set time limits for parking in commercial areas, to name a few examples.
“Since the Commission did not follow the law and recommendations of its own staff, the residents of Venice have no choice but to ask the court to correct the situation,” Ryavec said.