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Coastal Commission scathingly rejects parking restrictions in Venice

June 14, 2013|By Carla Hall
  • At least his skateboard doesn't need a parking space. John Smith of Venice practices on the traditional skateboard park at Venice Beach.
At least his skateboard doesn't need a parking space. John Smith of… (Los Angeles Times )

The California Coastal Commission unanimously — and rather scathingly — rebuffed a request for overnight parking restrictions in Venice.   This was the third time since 2009 that the request came before the commission--and the third time was not a charm.

The commissioners, also, blew off the L.A. Times editorial board’s advice to them on this issue.  Los Angeles city officials offered to mitigate the creation of an overnight parking district — that would allow only residents and their guests to park west of Lincoln in Venice from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. — by making available 350 new spots in city parking lots overnight near the beach and making sure another 350 on-street spots in the area were exempt from the restriction.  We thought that seemed reasonable — and suggested that the Coastal Commission simply cap the number of parking permits it issued at 700.  One-to-one mitigation.

Actually, no one was happy with our suggestions, no matter what side of the issue they were on.  (You should see my email.)  That’s understandable. This is an enormously controversial issue, pitting Venice residents who believe their streets are being overrun at night with drunken revelers and parking moochers (car rental companies dumping cars, Santa Monica residents avoiding their own permit-controlled streets)  against Venice residents who believe that this is a systematic effort to keep unwanted people out of Venice.

Clearly, the commissioners weren’t buying the arguments of the pro-parking restriction folks.

The commission has one overriding mission — to protect access to the coast for all people, residents and visitors alike.  That means protecting parking access, too.  For the commissioners, it wasn’t just about mitigation (and they weren’t very impressed with the city’s offer, anyway), it was about proof of a severe parking crunch.   We noted in our editorial that there had been no definitive, up-to-date parking study of the Venice area.  And that was a big sticking point for the commissioners.

“I can’t see myself supporting this without any data,” said one commissioner.

Venice is an extraordinary — and very congested — community that mixes residents, beachgoers, tourists, merchants, street vendors, restaurant and bar patrons, and, yes, homeless people.  At any given time, some portion of all those populations are vying for a place in Venice and, often, a parking space.  There are other ways to deal with the clash of cultures there besides parking restrictions.  More supportive housing for the homeless and more regulation of restaurant parking policies are, at least, two ways to go.

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