By Greta Cobar
Discrimination against those opposing Overnight Parking Districts (OPDs) in Venice was in full swing at the April Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) meeting.
No speaker cards were used for the discussion concerning OPDs, and Marc Saltzberg, VNC vice-president presiding over the OPD discussion, favored those supporting OPDs. They were allowed and encouraged to speak, while those opposing OPDs were marginalized and silenced.
As a result, the public is currently misinformed when it comes to OPDs. Here are some facts to consider:
• Price: How much is it going to cost you to park in front of your house? By how much will the rate increase each year? How much will you and your friends spend on parking tickets?
• Hassle: Do you look forward to going to some city office miles from here to pick up your permits? Is that something you want to do right before guests are coming over, to have to go and pick up a permit for them? What do you think will take longer, the drive or the waiting in line?
• Domino effect, not democracy: Although two thirds of all residents on a certain block would have to sign a petition requesting OPDs on their block, once one block signs such a petition, the blocks next to it will be forced to do it. When a person living on a block with OPDs has a visitor, that visitor will take the parking space in front of your house if your block has no OPDs. And therefore OPDs would create a domino effect in which people will be forced into signing up for OPDs on their block.
• Attention, beach residents!: Parking in your area will become even more congested under OPDs. Under the proposed settlement the area West of Pacific is not eligible for OPDs. Therefore all visitors coming to Venice will be looking for parking in that area.
• OPDs will not provide parking relief: Parking scarcity is a problem during the daytime, not at night. OPDs will be effective 2am to 5am only, when parking is not a problem in Venice. The only area where it is difficult to find parking during the night is West of Pacific. Ironically, OPDs are not going to be an option in that area.
• OPDs are illegal: Everybody needs to have 24 hour access to the entire Coastal Zone, which lies West of Lincoln. Not allowing people to park during certain hours anywhere within the Coastal Zone is a violation of the Coastal Act.
• Restriction of access: Sharing the Coastal Zone with people who are not as lucky as we are to live here is a Venetian responsibility. Restricting access through OPDs is wrong, immoral and unethical.
• Selective targeting and discrimination: “As a result of the Oversize Vehicle Ordinance people living in RVs have moved to vans,” stated Mark Ryavec, who is responsible for bringing forward this new settlement. The real intent of OPDs is to target people living in vehicles. Although that attitude might fly high in other parts of town, it really goes against the Venice way of doing things.
The only person not supporting OPDs who was allowed to speak during the meeting was Sara Wan, former commission member with the California Coastal Commission. She warned that OPDs would change the characteristics of our community. She also warned that the city of Los Angeles needs to put in place all proposed changes in order to accommodate OPDs before the parking restrictions go into effect. She mentioned that the city does not have a good record of following through.
Wan emphasized the fact that the settlement is only tentative, and it still needs to be approved by the Coastal Commission. In her opinion, because the Commission had not approved two very similar settlements in 2009 and 2010, it is likely and expected to follow its precedent rulings.
Presentations supporting OPDs at the VNC meeting were given by: Tamara Martin, Manager Analyst, of Parking Permits Division for the Department of Transportation; Arturo Pina, Councilperson Bill Rosendahl’s Chief of Staff; Jane Usher, from Carmen Trutanich’s office.
During the Question and Answer section of the meeting, the aforementioned speakers were allowed to answer the public’s questions. However, following Saltzberg’s suggestion, Ryavec became part of the panel answering the public’s questions even though he was the one who paid an attorney to come up with the settlement that would establish OPDs, if approved. Talk about conflict of interest.
Meanwhile, Linda Lucks, VNC President, chose to recuse herself from the discussion concerning OPDs following Ryavec’s request of an investigation of ethics violation concerning Lucks’s employment with the Venice Community Housing Corporation, organization which has opposed OPDs.
Although all those opposing OPDs were allowed to talk at large, when a question was directed towards Wan, who was against OPDs, Ryavec took over the microphone and proceeded to answer the question himself. Did he just make himself exempt from conflict of interest violations?
The public needs to build a strong stand against Ryavec’s attempt to fool the public and the Coastal Commission into something that was already denied twice.
Send letters opposing OPDs in Venice addressed to John (Jack) Ainsworth, Senior Deputy Director and
Teresa Henry, District Managerto, at the following address: 45 Fremont Street, Suite 2000, San Francisco, CA 94105-2219.
And come out to voice your opinion during the June hearing, to be held on either June 12, 13 or 14 at the Long Beach City Council Chambers, 333 W. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach.
By Greta Cobar