Tuesday, June 16, 2015

VSA Opposes the Car Camping Bill - AB 718

June 16, 2015                                               
Senator Robert M. Hertzberg, Chair
Senate Committee on Government and Finance
State Capitol, Room 408
Sacramento, CA  95814

Re:  Opposition to Assembly Bill 718 (Chu) – 
       Removal of Regulatory Authority: Vehicles

Dear Senator Hertzberg:

I am writing on behalf of our organization to urge you to vote against Assembly Bill 718 (Chu).

The Venice Stakeholders Association is composed of residents in Venice, California, dedicated to improving neighborhood safety in our beach community.

We led the effort to remove over 200 RVs and campers from our community that previously occupied the curbs in front of our residences on a full-time basis, with all the problems attendant to the use of residential streets as an urban campground.

We are currently suing the City and County of Los Angeles for maintaining a dangerous public nuisance along the Venice Beach Recreation Area, which resulted from the City and County’s failure to enforce the Beach Curfew and the existing ban on camping in City parks.  We also have lobbied for the reinstatement of enforcement of the City’s ordinance banning lying, sitting, sleeping on public rights-of-way.

Our opposition to AB 718 is driven by our experiences over many years with the noxious effects of people lodging in their vehicles in residential neighborhoods, which would be allowed under AB 718.

We have seen on many, many occasions car campers use residential gardens, parkways, car ports and garage aprons as latrines.  We have been frequently awakened at night by all the late night noise of fights, arguments and drunken partying that these campers generate.  We have been forced to park several blocks away from our homes as the parking in front of homes is taken up by those living in their vehicles.  (And we’ve seen overnight restricted parking for our neighborhood rejected three times by the California Coastal Commission, so that is not a solution to the dearth of parking we face in Venice.) We’ve cleaned up all the trash dumped by car campers on our parkways and streets.  We witnessed the assault-by-vehicle by drunken car camper Nathan Campbell, angered at drug deal gone bad, upon 17 pedestrians on the Venice Boardwalk, which left Italian visitor Alice Gruppioni dead.  We live in fear of car break-ins and residential burglaries as vehicle lodgers forage for funds to support their drug habits.

We would ask that this bill be rejected and that instead the Legislature support the proposal before the Los Angeles City Council to create a handful of parking areas located at significant distance from residences where a pilot program can be introduced to test the concept of vehicular lodging under a permit system and in collaboration with social service agencies.  Leaving on the street those who are forced by circumstances to live in their vehicles is not a solution and they should not be abandoned to such a life.  AB 718 simply locks in place a desperate lifestyle while offering no alternative.

Thank you for your consideration of our views on this bill.

Sincerely yours,

Mark Ryavec

Mark Ryavec, President

cc:  Senator Ben Allen

NOTE: please send your email opposing AB 718 to these staffers in Sacramento: