Friday, January 28, 2011

VSA Opposes Use of Streets for "Streets to Homes" Program

Dear OPD/OVO Supporter,

I am writing to ask you to send an email to Councilman Bill Rosendahl and City Attorney Carmen Trutanich to oppose the use of streets in Venice for Mr. Rosendahl's RV "Streets to Homes" program.

After the LAPD has made great headway against the proliferation of more than 250 RVs, campers and vans camped out on Venice streets, Councilman Rosendahl said at a recent hearing that he is contemplating amending Municipal Code section 85.02 to allow the use of city parking lots and city streets for those who participate in his program for RV dwellers to transition to housing. His Chief Deputy Mike Bonin confirmed the use of "street segments" in conversation with a VSA member.

While the VSA has long supported a vehicles-to-homes program, we have opposed staging those still living in vehicles on our streets for the following reasons:

1. Any use of streets or segments of streets will become a magnet for other vehicle dwellers to camp out here, which will push the limits of LAPD and Dept. of Transportation enforcement of the ban on sleeping in vehicles (LAMC 85.02) and the 72 limit on parking in one space.

2. Enforcement efforts will be confused if it is legal to lodge in a vehicle on one street or block but not the surrounding streets.

3. It will defeat the expressed desires of those who have signed petitions with a 2/3rds majority for a ban on oversize vehicles (OVO) on their street.

4. Neither Santa Barbara, CA nor Eugene, OR allow those participating in their safe parking programs to park at night on city streets; participants park on parking lots.

At various times, some members of the Venice Neighborhood Council and some RV advocates have asked that the following streets by legalized for living in vehicles: Venice Boulevard, Hampton and 3rd Street south of Rose, Main Street by the dog park, 4th Street by the Venice Skills Center and 7th Street by the Oakwood Recreation Center.

We have firmly opposed these proposals because they would be a magnet for yet more RVs, campers and vans. Yet once again we find Mr. Rosendahl moving to open Venice streets back up to vehicle campers. This is bizarre coming after the LAPD has done a spectacular job of enforcing the ban on lodging on city streets, the 72 hour rule and the prohibition on leaking/dumping sewage on city streets.

We requested a meeting with both Mr. Rosendahl and Mr. Trutanich to discuss our concerns about Rosendahl's proposal to legalize lodging in vehicles on city streets. Mr. Trutanich readily agreed to meet with us. However, Mr. Rosendahl's Chief Deputy, Mike Bonin, writing on behalf of Rosendahl, refused to meet with us and directed Mr. Trutanich to also not meet with us.

Since Mr. Trutanich's office is drafting the amendments to LAMC 85.02 please send the following email, or one like it in your own words, to Mr. Trutanich, his Chief Deputy Jane Usher, and Mr. Rosendahl.

Please contact me at if you have any questions about this matter.

Many thanks for your continuing support to improve the quality of life in Venice, preserve parking for residents and stop sewage dumping by vehicle dwellers.

Mark Ryavec
Venice Stakeholders Association

Example Email:

City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, Councilman Bill Rosendahl,

I am adamantly opposed to amending LAMC 85.02 to allow the use of Venice streets for overnight parking for those who live in their vehicles. Any program to assist these individuals should utilize proper parking lots and these lots must be a least 300 feet away from any residences.

The LAPD and the City Attorney's Office have done a spectacular job of enforcing 85.02 in Venice and restoring our streets to the residents. Please do not backslide and open the door for the RVs and campers to return.

Thank you,

(your name and address)

Send to: City Attorney Carmen Trutanich
Jane Usher
Councilman Bill Rosendahl

Saturday, January 8, 2011

"No Oversize Vehicle" Signs Go Up in Venice

Today the Venice Stakeholders Association hailed the installation of the first wave of signs banning oversize vehicles from parking on City streets in Venice. The signs are being posted today at several locations in central and north Venice.

"This has been a long time in coming," said Mark Ryavec, president of the VSA. "Over the holidays there was a flood of RVs and campers on our streets, many of them rental vehicles. They treat Venice like an urban "Kampgrounds of America" and take up limited resident parking. I had one in front of my house for several nights, which causes residents to have to hunt for parking if they arrive home later in the evening."

"These signs will help preserve parking for residents and should stop the incidents of sewage dumping in our town by the owners of these vehicles," Ryavec said.

The signs ban vehicles taller than seven feet or longer than 22 feet from Venice streets where over 2/3rds of the residents have petitioned for the new signs.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Update on Public Records Request

Public Records Reveal Mayor’s Deputy Transportation Director Used City Time and Email Account to Pursue Personal Campaign Against Overnight Parking Districts

(Venice, CA/1-4-10) City records requested by the Venice Stakeholders Association (VSA) have revealed that Jim Bickhart, the Mayor’s Associate Director of Transportation, used City time and a City email account to pursue his own personal opposition to the implementation of Overnight Parking Districts (OPDs) in Venice, against the official position of the City and Councilman Bill Rosendahl in support of the districts. None of his actions were taken under his job description, which is limited to transportation issues at LAX and the zoo.

In late November the VSA sent a letter to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa calling for an investigation into claims on the website Yo!Venice! that Bickhart had repeatedly posted hostile and hateful comments on the website under a pseudonym in an effort to discredit Venice Stakeholders and those who support overnight restricted parking in Venice.

In December, the VSA followed up with a public records request concerning Bickhart, OPDs, VSA, and other topics. In reply, the Mayor’s Office released on Monday, January 3rd, several email communications between Bickhart and various City staff and members of the Venice community, including Venice Neighborhood Council president Linda Lucks, Council aides Laura Mclennan and Arturo Pina, and Department of Transportation officials Yadi Hashemi and Alan Willis. At the time, Hashemi and Willis were overseeing City negotiations with the California Coastal Commission regarding the City’s application for the Venice OPDs.

The emails date from November 12, 2008 up to May 4, 2010 and cover various requests for information from City departments, scheduling of meetings for Bickhart on City time on OPD issues with City employees, a letter of opposition to OPDs from Bickhart to City officials, and the details of negotiations between City representatives with Coastal Commission staff.

“The City has withheld other documents on the requested subjects in violation of the California Public Records Act,” said Mark Ryavec, the president of the VSA. “So, we don’t know yet whether the missing documents will confirm that Bickhart is the person who posted the hostile remarks and attributed them, in part, to the VSA.”

“What we do know is that Bickhart used time paid for by taxpayers and a City email account to pursue his personal campaign to scuttle OPDs in Venice,” Ryavec said.

“This is clearly not acceptable behavior for any City employee and we call upon the Mayor to require that Bickhart repay the City for the City time he used, that he be formally reprimanded for using City resources to oppose an official City position, and put on an unpaid leave for some appropriate period of time to make it clear that such actions are not tolerated in City service,” Ryavec said.