Venice Activists Calls B.S. On City's Vision Of Beach RV Life
Venice activists critical of a Los Angeles plan to house some RV dwellers overnight at special parking lots are calling out the city's document (PDF) on the program for using a photo of a family outside a camper that they say has been doctored. The critics' ire is aimed at Westside Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who is funding the Safe Parking program, since renamed "Streets to Homes." [Update]: Mike Bonin, Rosendahl's chief of staff, said the photo wasn't doctored or "Photoshopped;" rather it was taken from a brochure from a similar program in Eugene, Oregon. (The word "Photoshopped" was taken out of an earlier headline for this story). The fact that the source of the photo was omitted from the document would be corrected, he said.
"This is an outrageous example of the dishonesty with which Mr. Rosendahl is approaching the Venice community to sell this expensive and highly contentious program," Venice resident John Betz said in a statement released Friday.
Mark Ryavec, a longtime opponent of RV dwellers who "park and snooze" in Venice, argues that the campers are often homeless people with drug and mental problems who would be resistant to Rosendahl's $750,000 plan to house and ply them with social services at the overnight lots.
Dennis Romero A Venice RV photographed by the Weekly in July.
" ... There are few if any families, and that many of those living illegally in vehicles choose this as a lifestyle," stated Ryavec, president of the Venice Stakeholders Association. "In fact, the vehicle dwellers are more correctly described as 'squatters,' whom residents believe have other choices for living accommodations, such as friends and family, but prefer the freedom and simplicity of "camping out" in Venice."
Supporters of the overnight-lot plan say it's a humane way to deal with people who are just as much a part of Venice as homeowners. Other proposals -- including a failed try at getting permit parking instituted in Venice -- are less-than-veiled attempts by the forces of gentrification to push the rig-dwellers out of the beach community, they say.
Dennis Romero Another Venice RV photographed in July.
Opponents argue that the cash Rosendahl is using to launch the program could be put to better use.
"Many of these people enjoy their drug and alcohol lifestyle, then take our parking, defecate in our yards, and steal anything not nailed down," stated area resident Alexandria Thompson. "So, now they are also going to get services paid for by funds taken from the Grand Canal Habitat Restoration Project and infrastructure needs in Venice?"
Dennis Romero A Venice van photographed by the Weekly in July.
[Update]: Bonin of Rosendahl's office points out that the money used for the overnight-lot program was taken from the councilman's surplus-property fund, which is also underwriting canal restoration that he says is underway.