A group of passionate and frustrated Venice Beach residents took to the streets yesterday for a press conference they called “Don’t Dump on Venice”. Angered that the city is not enforcing existent laws which forbid sleeping in a vehicle of any sort on city streets, residents demanded that the city enforce these laws. The group also demanded immediate release of the City Council’s unanimously approved Oversized Vehicle sign petitions from Councilman Bill Rosendahl and also an immediate reexamination of this issue by the California Coastal Commission.
At issue is the fact that Venice has become a mecca for RV Dwellers that choose to “live off the grid” (known as boondocking), willingly choosing a lifestyle that endangers Venice residents safety and health. As seen on many sites online (like “Free Campgrouds“), these “boondockers” view Venice Beach as a place where “Police do not enforce city ordinance against lodging in your vehicle”
The proliferation of high quality cel-phone cameras has enabled Venice residents to begin documenting violations of health and safety issues by these RV dwelling Boondockers. One such incident of a resident documenting multiple instances of RV dweller toxic sewage dumping with a cel phone has made the RV problem in Venice and the complaints of Venice residents against City leaders national news in the last week.
The majority of Venice residents are in agreement that this illegal RV activity is commonplace and are frustrated that activists such as the social service industry friendly “Venice Action” group have seemingly tried to make this issue about class warfare and gentrification issues rather than what it is: a matter of public health and safety concerns.
“Venice Action” members include Venice Neighborhood Council President Linda Lucks, Christopher Plourde, Karen Wolfe and David Ewing.
Rather than ask for the enforcement of existing laws, VNC President and “Venice Action” member Linda Lucks has written that “Though not a perfect solution, sump trucks can provide a bridge until proper sanitation facilities can be put in place and can serve as a prevention safeguard, always preferable to pollution and spills.” If the city were to enable these “boondockers” by allotting city funds and creating a waste management group for law breaking RV dwellers is beyond doubt an issue that would end up in court. Enforcement of existing laws would solve the problem, and not require any such program of enablement.
As more and more residents document the illegal waste dumping and criminal activities of this “boondocking” transient RV community, it is expected that the California Coastal Commission, if acting purely in defense of the Ocean and not from the pressure of activist groups that would like this to appear as a “class” war, to reverse their decision for over night parking regulation in Venice Beach. Readers: please document illegal “boondocker” RV transient activity with your cel phones and submit them to the LAPD. You can also email them to us here at Yo! Venice! or post them in the forums yourself.
If you would like to print the “Don’t Dump on Venice” logo out as a bumper sticker, click here for the artwork.
Click here to see the coverage from CBS news.
Click here to see the coverage on it from NBC News.
As part of this press conference by residents, The Venice Stakeholders Association released this press statement:
Venice Residents Demand Release of Oversize Vehicle Petitions from LA Councilman’s Office to Remove RVs and Campers from Venice
(August 25, 2010 –Venice Beach, CA) – In light of the recent documented sewage dumping incidences in Venice, the Venice Stakeholders Association today renewed its demand that Councilman Bill Rosendahl release to residents the petitions required to sign up blocks for the new signage banning oversize vehicles, including the types of RVs and campers involved in the dumping incidences at Pacific and Fleet and 3rd and Sunset.
“Bill Rosendahl has repeatedly told us that he’s going to put up the new signs and get these polluting vehicles out of our neighborhoods and away from the beach,” said Mark Ryavec, president of the VSA. “And then nothing happens.”
“This delay has been going on for months,” he said.
Ryavec conjectured that Rosendahl is delaying installation of the signs until his “park and snooze” program – on parking lots near residences in Venice – is operational.
“We were told by a high-ranking City official that Bill was delaying until the parking lots and a social service provided are secured, which in our estimation is many, many months away, considering there are over 250 vehicle dwellers in Venice.” Ryavec said. “Bill also continues to push the community to accept putting the RVs and campers on parking lots in residential areas, such as the median between North and South Venice Boulevards,” Ryavec said.
“Bill doesn’t get that we do not want to be an urban RV campground,” Ryavec said. “We want the RVs and campers out of areas near residences and away from the beach. We support a safe parking program, but at least 300 feet from homes and a good distance from the ocean to prevent the kind of pollution we recently saw on Pacific and 3rd from reaching the beach.”
Ryavec also noted that these vehicles would have been banned from Venice streets two years ago if the Coastal Commission had not rejected the City’s application for overnight restricted parking (OPDs).
“The Commission has a legal mandate to protect coastal waters” Ryavec said. “If there were 250 apartments in Venice without sewer hook-ups, the Commission would shut them down in a minute. We fail to see how the situation with all these RVs and campers is different. They belong in proper campgrounds.”
Ryavec said that residents have been complaining to City, County and Coastal Commission authorities for years about the dangers of the pollution from these vehicles, and have found that no one has taken the on-going contamination of streets, and ultimately the Santa Monica Bay, seriously.