City Laws Prohibiting Blocking Public Rights-of-Way
and Using Public Property for Storage of Personal Possessions
(Venice, CA/7-12-12) On Tuesday, July 17, the Venice Neighborhood Council will consider a motion prepared by the Venice Stakeholders Association (VSA), which calls for enforcement of City ordinances which ban occupying or blocking public property.
The Motion was approved by the VNC’s Public Safety Committee on a 3/2 vote and now goes before the full VNC at the meeting, scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
“Our goal is twofold,” said Mark Ryavec, president of the VSA. “First, we want to send a clear message to the City and the Los Angeles Police Department that Venice residents expect all applicable ordinances that ban occupying public property, storing possessions on public property and blocking public rights-of-way to be consistently enforced. Second, we would ask that the LAPD, in the course of enforcing these ordinances, to offer referrals to those who may need services and housing.”
The motion approved by the VNC committee enumerates numerous city ordinances that prohibit occupying or obstructing public rights-of-way. It also describes the two narrow circumstances in which the courts have temporarily limited enforcement of the relevant ordinances, one of which does not even apply to Venice.
Ryavec said that LAPD appears to be refraining from fully enforcing certain ordinances because of the possibility of litigation against the City. “We applaud the work the LAPD and the City Attorney’s Office have done under the constraints they face,” Ryavec said, “but we think they can and should do more under existing law.”
Ryavec noted, for example, that under a beach curfew presently in effect, no one is allowed on the beach, the grassy areas of the Venice Beach Recreation Area or the Boardwalk from 12 to 5 AM, and yet there are literally tons of personal possessions stored overnight in these areas, in violation of separate ordinances that prohibit obstructing public rights-of-way and storing private property on public rights-of-way.
“It looks like Skid Row along some stretches of the Boardwalk, especially around Rose and Ozone Avenues,” Ryavec said. “Allowing this area to be used for storage is a violation of City law.”
Whereas, the Los Angeles Municipal Code (“LAMC”) contains the following provisions governing public rights-of-way and City parks:
· LAMC § 62.61(b), which states that “No person shall … obstruct any public street or right-of-way for any reason without first applying for, in writing, and obtaining a permit from the Board of Public Works,” and which thereby prohibits any obstruction of a sidewalk or parkway or any portion thereof, regardless the nature or scope of the encroachment without a permit;
· LAMC § 41.18(a), which states that “No person shall stand in or upon any street, sidewalk or other public way open for pedestrian travel or otherwise occupy any portion thereof in such a manner as to annoy or molest any pedestrian thereon or so as to obstruct or unreasonably interfere with the free passage of pedestrians,” and which thereby prohibits occupation of any portion of a sidewalk or parkway in a manner that annoys any pedestrian or obstructs the free passage of pedestrians;
· LAMC § 41.18(d), which states that “No person shall sit, lie or sleep in or upon any street, sidewalk or other public way,” and which remains fully in effect 24 hours a day despite the City’s settlement in Jones v. City of Los Angeles, which settlement in any event pertains only to the enforcement by the City of the ordinance between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.
· LAMC § 56.11, which states that “No person shall leave or permit to remain any merchandise, baggage or any article of personal property upon any parkway or sidewalk,” and which remains fully in effect notwithstanding the preliminary injunction in Lavan v. City of Los Angeles, which injunction in any event pertains only to “Skid Row” in downtown Los Angeles.
· LAMC § 63.44(D), which states that “Within the limits of any park other than beaches, no person shall . . . Camp or lodge, except in locations designated for such purposes,” and which thereby prohibits any camping on Ocean Front Walk or any other portion of the Venice Beach Recreation Area;
And whereas, the Venice Neighborhood Council considers public rights-of-way and City parks – including sidewalks, parkways, streets, parking lots and public parks – to be for the shared use of residents and visitors in accordance with the municipal code sections enumerated above, and believes that these areas should not be obstructed or occupied except when specifically authorized under an applicable City ordinance;
And whereas, the Venice Neighborhood Council wishes that the Los Angeles Police Department, in enforcing these laws, provide referral to any person in need of services and/or housing who may violate these laws;
Now, Therefore, Be It Resolved, that the Venice Neighborhood Council calls upon the Los Angeles Police Department to consistently enforce the above laws, while offering referrals to those who may
need services and housing.