Tuesday, April 13, 2010

VSA Opposes Rosendahl Raid on Venice Surplus Property Fund for RV/Camper "Park and Snooze" Camps

Councilman Bill Rosendahl
Los Angeles City Council
City Hall
200 North Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Re: Motion to Allocate $1,200,000 from Venice Surplus Real Property Fund to Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority to Fund RV/Camper Program (Rosendahl/Parks)

Dear Councilman Rosendahl,

I am writing on behalf of the Venice Stakeholders Association to indicate our opposition to your Motion to allocate $1,200,000 from Venice Surplus Real Property Fund (VSRPF) to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) to fund an RV/Camper Program in CD 11 (Rosendahl/Parks).

This proposed allocation violates the intent and letter of the City Administrative Code section which governs the VSRPF.

The Administrative Code requires that the net proceeds from the sale of any Venice properties shall be devoted exclusively to capital or non-capital projects generally within the “Venice area” for purposes which will be of benefit to citizens of the City of Los Angeles or tourists to the Venice Beach area. The perimeters of the “Venice area” are tightly prescribed, and the eastern boundary is Lincoln Boulevard.

The intent of the ordinance establishing the VSRPF was to fund physical improvements from the sale of physical property, so as to not squander these rare assets

The allocation of these funds to LAHSA does not represent a capital or non-capital project. LAHSA is a service provider. There will be no “project” – no improvement, no structure, no physical repairs – from this allocation.

While the Motion’s language calls for the services funded by this allocation to LAHSA to be provided in CD 11, this is not legally permissible under the Administrative Code. Any expenditure outside of Venice would invite legal challenge. To avoid legal action, the City and LAHSA would be forced to expend the $1,200,000 to provide safe parking and services only in Venice for people living in their vehicles as long as they were citizens of any part of Los Angeles or were tourists. This would have the following three results:

1) Fund the placement of hundreds of RVs, campers and vans parking in close proximity to residences, schools, parks, canals, the beach, etc., in Venice.

2) Make Venice the destination RV/camper park for all of Los Angeles, and formally open the door for providing parking spaces and services for a large number “tourists” living in RVs/campers/vans.

3) Violate LAMC 85.02, the ban on lodging in vehicles.

As you know, our organization supports a Vehicle-to-Housing Transition Program, as outlined in the report of the VNC Ad-Hoc Committee on Homelessness and Vehicle Occupation, under a conditional use permit, limits on length of stay, and setbacks from residences of at least 250 feet. There is no definition in your Motion of the proposed program, which gives us serious concerns, as we do not believe that the Santa Barbara model is appropriate in several aspects for the much denser environment of Venice. In addition, LAHSA has no experience in operating a program to assist vehicle dwellers transition to housing.

Further, we understand that the Grand Canal Restoration Project – a capital project in Venice – has an immediate need for $1,600,000 to complete the western side of the Grand Canal from Washington Boulevard to Driftwood.

We would strongly recommend that you revise your Motion to allocate the $1,200,000 to finish this long delayed restoration project, which complies with the intent and letter of the language of the VSRPF.

Sincerely yours,

Mark Ryavec

cc: Mark Winter, Director, Marina Peninsula Neighborhood Association

Members of the Los Angeles City Council