Sunday, August 29, 2010
Venice Residents Demand City and Coastal Commission Action to Remove Recreational Vehicles and Stop Sewage Dumping
(August 29, 2010 –Venice Beach, CA) – Representatives of three Venice residents’ organizations today demanded that the City of Los Angeles and the California Coastal Commission take immediate steps to stop RVs, campers and other vehicles from camping overnight in neighborhoods and dumping their human waste on public streets, which endangers residents and pollutes the coastal waters at Venice Beach.
The demand by the Venice Stakeholders Association, Marina Peninsula Neighborhood Association, and Venice Canals Association came in the wake of a widely-publicized incident in which an RV owner uncapped her sewage holding tank and drove north on Pacific Avenue, just a block from the ocean, releasing over 100 gallons of human waste onto the street as she drove. The woman was arrested but subsequently released, and the City of Los Angeles took several days to clean up the mess.
Such dumping incidents are common in Venice. Just a few weeks ago, Robert Feist, past president of the Venice Chamber of Commerce, observed a similar act on nearby Electric Avenue. “I saw a man take off the cap of his holding tank and drive down the street spewing sewage right in front of homes,” said Feist.
In addition to intentional dumping, the decrepit condition of many of the RVs and campers means that such vehicles often leak their sewage onto public streets. In addition, people who live in vehicles lacking toilets – such as cars, trucks and vans – simply relieve themselves on local streets, alleys and in residents’ yards.
Residents say it is time for the City to take firm action to stem the tide of human sewage in Venice neighborhoods. “We have struggled for years to get the City to remove these vehicles from the neighborhood and stop the dumping and other negative effects,” said Mark Ryavec, the president of the Venice Stakeholders Association (VSA). “Now, the councilman of the district is talking about investigating why it took so long to clean-up the sewage, but this is not the answer. The answer is for the City to remove the source of the problem, which is the vehicles themselves.”
Marina Peninsula Neighborhood Association Director Diana Spielberger agreed. Speaking at the site of one of the recent dumping incidents, Spielberger said, “We cannot tolerate this kind of health-threatening pollution and irresponsibility from transients who live in RVs and cars. Our city streets are not campgrounds and what these people are doing is clearly against the law. We need our city officials to enforce the law.”
Ryavec outlined several actions that city and state agencies should take to address the constant intentional dumping and leaking of human waste from RVs and other vehicles used for camping on Venice streets:
1. City Councilman Bill Rosendahl (CD-11) should immediately release petitions for residents to complete to request the posting of “No Oversize Vehicle” signs on their neighborhood streets, which would ban vehicles over seven feet tall and allow police to remove such vehicles. The Councilman should also expedite the installation of the signs.
2. The Los Angeles Police Department should start aggressively enforcing the City’s current ban on living in vehicles (LAMC 85.02), as well as laws prohibiting criminal activity by the owners of the vehicles, including dumping and leaking of sewage, late night noise, drug sales, prostitution, public inebriation and harassment of residents. To support this effort, the LAPD should increase the number of undercover officers in Venice, and the City Attorney should back up the Department by aggressively prosecuting such violations.
3. The California Coastal Commission, in light of its obligation to protect coastal waters from pollution, should reconsider its recent denial of a permit that would allow the City to implement overnight restricted parking in Venice, a measure that would stop camping in any vehicle, regardless of size.
In addition, Venice resident Heidi Roberts called for the LAPD to reverse its plans to redeploy 21 officers away from Venice Beach at the end of the summer season. “The recent dumping incidents and a 240% increase in transient-related crime in Venice, reported by the LAPD’s Pacific Division, makes it imperative that we keep these officers here throughout the year,” Roberts said. Indeed, she noted that the City’s plan to post signs banning oversize vehicles would be ineffective without more officers to enforce the rule.
For more information, see the following links:
Images of 100 gallon sewage dump at Pacific and Fleet:
Video of 100 gallon sewage dump at Pacific and Fleet (requires installation of
Apple QuickTime): http://thestagingserver.com/rv/rvdump.mov
Images of RVs, puddles of sewage and human feces at 3rd Avenue at Rose
and Sunset : http://gallery.me.com/locoroyale/100521
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Venice Residents Demand Release of
Oversize Vehicle Petitions from LA Councilman’s Office to Remove RVs and Campers from Venice
(August 25, 2010 –Venice Beach, CA) – In light of the recent documented sewage dumping incidences in Venice, the Venice Stakeholders Association today renewed its demand that Councilman Bill Rosendahl release to residents the petitions required to sign up blocks for the new signage banning oversize vehicles, including the types of RVs and campers involved in the dumping incidences at Pacific and Fleet and 3rd and Sunset.
“Bill Rosendahl has repeatedly told us that he’s going to put up the new signs and get these polluting vehicles out of our neighborhoods and away from the beach,” said Mark Ryavec, president of the VSA. “And then nothing happens.”
“This delay has been going on for months,” he said.
Ryavec conjectured that Rosendahl is delaying installation of the signs until his “park and snooze” program – on parking lots near residences in Venice – is operational.
“We were told by a high-ranking City official that Bill was delaying until the parking lots and a social service provider are secured, which in our estimation is many, many months away, considering there are over 250 vehicle dwellers in Venice.” Ryavec said. “Bill also continues to push the community to accept putting the RVs and campers on parking lots in residential areas, such as the median between North and South Venice Boulevards,” Ryavec said.
“Bill doesn’t get that we do not want to be an urban RV campground,” Ryavec said. “We want the RVs and campers out of areas near residences and away from the beach. We support a safe parking program, but at least 300 feet from homes and a good distance from the ocean to prevent the kind of pollution we recently saw on Pacific and 3rd from reaching the beach.”
Ryavec also noted that these vehicles would have been banned from Venice streets over a year ago if the Coastal Commission had not rejected the City’s application for overnight restricted parking (OPDs).
“The Commission has a legal mandate to protect coastal waters” Ryavec said. “If there were 250 apartments in Venice without sewer hook-ups, the Commission would shut them down in a minute. We fail to see how the situation with all these RVs and campers is different. They belong in proper campgrounds.”
Ryavec said that residents have been complaining to City, County and Coastal Commission authorities for years about the dangers of the pollution from these vehicles, and have found that no one has taken the on-going contamination of streets, and ultimately the Santa Monica Bay, seriously.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Your agency has invited comment on the Request for Proposal (RFP) for the proposed “Streets to Homes” Program. I am writing on behalf of Venice residents to address several concerns. While we support the program in concept, we find the program design and RFP lacking in several aspects.
1. The program outline prepared by Ms. Sophia Heller, a consultant to Councilman Rosendahl, and the RFP do not reflect that a primary objective of the program is – or should be - relieving residents of Council District 11 of the burden they experience with people living in vehicles on their doorsteps (along with the goal of assisting those living in vehicles find housing). We would ask that this be included as a stated program goal.
2. The RFP does not include any protections for residents in the siting or the operation of parking lots to be used to host program participants. The Report of the VNC Ad Hoc Committee on Homelessness and Vehicular Occupation recommended at least a 300 foot setback between lots used for the program and any inhabited residences. We would ask that this specific language be included in the RFP.
3. The Ad Hoc Committee rejected providing any permit or placard for program participants who continue to park on public streets, yet your program outline proposes to provide placards to those who sign up to be on a waiting list. This will be the equivalent of giving preferential permit parking to vehicle dwellers, a right denied Venice residents by the Coastal Commission. We would ask that you reject this program element and rely upon the obvious identification provided by license plate numbers to record, locate and monitor those on the waiting list.
4. The program outline suggests that the target population is homeless families. Out of over 250 documented occupied vehicles, residents know of only one family, a single mother with two teenage children (who has rejected an offer of affordable housing). The St. Joseph Center’s limited survey of some of the camper population is a more accurate portrait and should be relied upon to explain the target population to CD 11 residents.
5. The VNC Ad Hoc Committee recommended that in the initial pilot program that participants adhere to a set of rules, which was derived from the “best practices” of similar programs in Eugene, OR and Santa Barbara, CA. I have attached them for your reference. We would ask that they be appended to the RFP. Certainly, they can and will be modified as the program evolves, but they, again, offer residents protections from the program parking lots becoming public nuisances. Further, we would ask that the RFP and program outline include in the program rules the requirement that those on a waiting list, i.e., those living in vehicles but still parking on public streets, not park at night on any block that has any residences on it.
6. You have indicated that you believe that a non-profit medical services provider would be qualified to apply for and ultimately run the “Streets to Homes” program. We beg to disagree. The stated mission of the program is to help vehicle dwellers find housing (and to also remove these vehicles from our neighborhoods). A medical services provider by definition has no experience with this mission and should not even be allowed to bid on RFP. A qualified non-profit with extensive experience with coaching homeless individuals to find and move to housing is called for.
Thank you for your consideration of our concerns.
Mark Ryavec, President
Report and Recommendations of the Ad Hoc Committee on Homelessness and Vehicular Occupation to the Venice Neighborhood Council
May 8, 2009
Co-Chairs: Carolyn Rios and Mark Ryavec
Members: Mariana Aguilar, Susan Beckman, Steve Freedman, Marie Hammond, Giovanna Imbesi, Michael King, John Meehan, Stewart Oscars and Terry Simons
The program would have the following outline:
1. The City would adopt conditional use permit language (recommended language included) to allow the permitting of public or private lots as transition sites per the proposed attached language. The sites would be at least 300 feet from inhabited residences, exempted from LAMC 85.02, no more than three vehicles would allowed on a site at one time, and participants would be restricted to three month stays and must be of very low income status. (Examples of possible sites are below.) Other provisions are contained in the attached proposed permit language to protect the neighborhoods in which the sites are located.
2. The City would develop and release a request for proposals for non-profit social service agencies to submit proposals to operate a vehicle-to-housing transition program (the service provider). The service provider would recruit vehicle dwellers to participate in the program, provide services required by the participants to facilitate placement in affordable housing, and supervise the sites and assure they are operated in a safe and healthy manner.
3. The service provider would be delegated by the City as the “first responder” in the event the City (DOT, Council Office or LAPD) is notified that someone is living in a vehicle on City streets in violation of LAMC 85.02 (ban on using vehicles as living quarters on public streets or parking lots) and/or 80.73.2 (ban on stays of more than 72 hours). The service provider will notify the vehicle dweller that living in vehicles is prohibited by City ordinance and that they will be cited for violation of 85.02 and/or 80.73.2. The service provider shall offer them overnight accommodations on a permitted parking lot, subject to availability, if they are judged to be very low income, agree to program guidelines and to participate in the transition program to place them in affordable housing. If they are not very low income and/or have no interest in finding housing, the service provider will direct them to permitted camping locations in the County of Los Angeles. If they fail to move their vehicles they will be subject to citation by the police and/or DOT.
4. The program would have the following guidelines:
a. Anyone, individuals or families, living in a motor vehicle (car/truck/van/recreational vehicle) which can be moved to and from the site by its own power, and who is judged to be very low income by a standard set by the Los Angeles Housing Department, is eligible.
b. Only those who have been accepted into the transition program by the service provider may stay on the permitted lot(s) overnight. All others will be cited for trespassing, and towed away if necessary.
c. Participant(s) must sign a contract with the service provider agreeing to relocate to permanent housing, if such housing is affordable to the participant and located within 10 miles of the transition site.
d. Anyone under age eighteen must be accompanied by and supervised by an adult.
e. The vehicle must have current a California license and insurance.
f. Dogs and other pets are forbidden (other than an assistance dog, such as a Seeing Eye dog).
Hours and Length of Stay
a. Vehicles are allowed on the sites overnight only (hours may differ as the lots may have other uses in the early evening or early morning).
b. Individuals and their vehicles are allowed to use the site overnight for a period of three months provided they abide by all program rules.
Support Services/Clean Up
a. Portable toilet(s) and trash bags will be provided by the service provided on-site. Overnight sleepers must use the portable toilet(s) provided or the sanitation system installed on their vehicle. The service provider will also make available shower facilities within a reasonable driving distance of the site.
b. Participants must dispose of human waste which accumulates in their vehicle’s tank at proper disposal sites.
c. Participants are responsible for keeping their space clean and helping to keep the entire site clean.
a. No violent or aggressive behavior, physical or verbal abuse, vandalism, panhandling, gambling or offensive behavior is allowed.
b. No use or brandishing of weapons or carrying of firearms on the site.
c. No consumption of alcohol or illegal drugs or open containers of alcoholic beverages allowed on-site.
d. No loud noises or music.
e. Disputes between participants to be immediately brought to the attention of the service provider for resolution.
f. No children to be left unattended in a vehicle or on the site.
a. Vehicles are allowed only in prescribed locations on the site.
b. Vehicles and possessions are to be kept within the boundary lines of individual spaces.
c. No tents or temporary structures are to be erected on the site.
d. No cooking devices or open fires allowed on site other than those originally installed by manufacturers in vehicles.
f. No pets permitted on site.
g. Any vehicle left unattended for 48 hours will considered abandoned and the process will be started to have it towed away.
h. Program participants are responsible for their guests abiding by program rules. Guests must leave the site by 9 PM.
i. Violation of any of these rules can lead to termination from the program and loss of the right to use the site for overnight parking.
J. As multiple sites are developed, there should be separate sites for single individuals, women, and families.