Members of the Venice Civic Union have obtained county approval of a plan to provide parking for area residents until May 22 in a county-operated lot at the beach.
President Timothy J. Reed said members are pleased with the plan, but are concerned because it is only a short-term solution. The civic union was founded in 1947 and revitalized recently to fight for more parking in Venice, he said.
The county program will expire just before Memorial Day, when the beach season begins and crowds of tourists and sunbathers descend on Venice, he said. "When we are most impacted by tourists we will be back on the streets looking for parking," Reed said.
At the urging of the civic organization, the county Board of Supervisors agreed to allow residents to use 75 of the 289 spaces in a county lot on Rose Avenue for seven months when the beaches are less crowded. Residents will pay $55 a month, and senior citizens and the handicapped will receive a 20% discount.
Rental of the specially marked spaces will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, Reed said. More spaces might be available if the demand exceeds 75, he said.
The Venice Town Council estimates that the North Venice area needs at least 1,000 more spaces, according to Jim Bickhart, chairman of the council's planning and development committee.
The council and the Civic Union are pressing for long-term solutions to provide parking not only for the public but for residents, many of whom live in buildings constructed many years ago when codes did not require parking space to be included.
The groups propose that developers be required to pay fees to a parking assessment district for the construction of major parking facilities in Venice.
The Venice parking problem is a complex one in which the rights of land owners and developers, residents and the public frequently conflict.
"Parking is a very difficult problem to solve in Venice," said Patrick McCartney, president of the Venice Town Council. "The public-access issue is very important, yet the residents' needs must be examined and resolved."
Enforcement of parking laws has been stepped up with the city's designation of a special bureau to handle ticketing and towing, he said. Some residents are being ticketed repeatedly because the only places they can find to park are illegal. A couple of residents have such a backlog of fines that they cannot afford to retrieve their cars from impound and have abandoned them, McCartney said.
The county plan to provide parking in the Rose Avenue lot grew out of residents' concerns that a 100-car parking lot is going to be eliminated for the Venice Promenade retail and residential project at Ocean Front Walk and Navy Street.
The Coastal Commission has required developer Thomas Safran to replace about half of the 100 spaces as public parking in the project, but residents are concerned by the 50-space reduction. During construction, they said, no replacement parking will be available.
Bickhart said developers, including Safran, have learned that they must provide public parking not only to get Coastal Commission approval but to ensure the success of their projects.
"Some developers are coming to realize that for their projects to become commercially viable they need to be on good terms with the neighborhood," he said. "They are realizing that if they contribute to the ambient traffic and parking problems it makes it more difficult for customers to come to their buildings."
The two groups have criticized Los Angeles Councilwoman Pat Russell for promising but not delivering solutions to the parking problem.
"The city seems to have just kind of forgotten about us," said Reed.
Solutions have been slow in coming, he said, because so many governmental bodies are involved in planning for the Venice area--the city, the county and the Coastal Commission. "We have to talk to about 10 people to get one thing done," he said.
McCartney said Russell's office has promised various solutions, including a plan to add about 250 spaces in the Marina Peninsula area of south Venice, but so far nothing has happened.
Russell's spokeswoman, Alexa Bell, said various proposals have been deferred while the city conducts a multi-departmental effort to draft a comprehensive parking plan for Venice.
She acknowledged that the process has been slow, but said it is complicated by numerous factors including neighbors' objections to parking lots near their homes, planning issues such as whether to create one-way streets to accommodate proposed parking, and costs of providing parking on very valuable land.