During Covid, there were numerous RVs that permanently established themselves in Los Angeles City parks, even though “No Overnight Parking” signs were posted (LAMC 63.44).
The lack of enforcement is especially hazardous for residents who want to use local parks, as expressed by a Westchester resident who wrote, “The recent passing of a 93-year-old dad was particularly sad because he was unable to go to the Westchester Senior Center at the park to see his friends before he died.” That senior center was once a vibrant place for people to socialize, but the parking lot and handicapped parking spaces have been co-opted by transients.
The resident wrote that parking lots filled with RVs are not fair to residents because “This is affecting children as well, who are not safe going to the park and are being deprived of the opportunity to engage in community youth athletics. It affects our entire community.”
Additionally, the owners of some RVs have positioned themselves outside school yards, such as Westminster Elementary (in Venice), and refuse to move. Public school children are exposed to drug use, needles, violence, garbage and feces, and now vermin, because there are not adequate facilities on the street for these vehicles.
The Ballona Wetlands continue to suffer the ill-effects of a long line of RV’s illegally parked along Jefferson Boulevard in Playa Vista.
In 2016, the City Council passed LAMC 85.02, which sought to prevent people from living in vehicles in sensitive areas, such as near schools and daycare centers.
Additionally, the ordinance stated that dwellers were not allowed on a residential street between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., nor anytime within a one-block radius of the edge of a lot containing a park or a licensed school, pre-school or daycare facility. That section of the law expired in January 2020.
Parking enforcement in Los Angeles has now become selective. Those who fail to put enough money in the parking meter receive tickets. Those who camp in public parking lots in handicapped spaces or in other “No Parking” spaces are ignored.
According to the LAPD, there is a City moratorium that prohibits it from impounding any vehicle that has dwellers, regardless of where it is parked.
The problem is not only on the Westside, but also citywide. The Woodland Hills Neighborhood Council submitted a Community Impact Statement to the City Council in February stating, “While recognizing there is a diversity of opinion on LAMC 85.02 and vehicle dwelling and the need for the City to have an enforcement tool when unhealthful conditions exist in a vehicle dwelling location, the board of the Woodland Hills-Warner Center Neighborhood Council supports CF14-1057-S8 and requests that the City Council immediately renew and enforce LAMC 85.02 while also working to improve services to those in need.”
Councilmember Joe Buscaino sent a motion to the City Council’s Homeless and Poverty Committee on October 19, calling for lodging to be prohibited on City streets between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.
The proposed ordinance states that in areas where vehicle dwelling is allowed, a person needs to display a lodging pass issued by a homeless service provider that the City contracts. The passes come with an expiration date that can be renewed if needed.
No action has been taken by the committee. Some on the Westside are reaching out to Councilmember Mike Bonin and urging him to help those living in vehicles (see letter below).
Residents are also asking the City to lift the moratorium and enforce the “No Overnight Parking” signs (LAMC 63.44) at Los Angeles City parks.
One Westchester resident wrote:
Dear Mr. Bonin,
I was informed by RAP this morning that there will be no enforcement of LAMC 63.44 in the parking lots of Westchester Park. Specifically, I was informed as follows by Brenda Aguirre of RAP:
“We cannot tow any vehicle with evidence of people dwelling in it per the moratorium, this has been in effect Citywide. Anti-camping ordinances do not apply to vehicles. We will be cleaning the park and surrounding areas of Westchester by 11/20/21. I understand this response is not what you want to hear but it is the current situation, and we don’t have a remedy in place for vehicle dwellers.”
We were previously informed by Abby Austin of your staff at an NCWP meeting last week that your Encampments to Homes program in Westchester Park will not include people living in vehicles in the parking lots of the park.
As you are aware, our senior citizens cannot park in the parking lots and cannot use the senior center in the park because it is unsafe because of the homeless campers. Our youth athletes cannot park with their families in the parking lots and play youth athletics in the park because of the homeless campers. The park will not be safe if homeless people are living in the parking lots of the park.
The Emergency Order signed by the Mayor was lifted as to LAMC 80.69.4 pertaining to oversize vehicles parked on City streets where signs are posted. “No parking” after 10 p.m. parking closing time are posted in the parking lots of the park.
We request that you ask the Mayor to lift the Emergency Order as to LAMC Section 63.44 regarding vehicles parked in the parking lots of parks after closing time so enforcement may take place in the parking lots of the park.
Our request is not based on stereotypes regarding people who are homeless. It is based on records of LAPD, LAFD, Citizen Alerts, and personal accounts regarding crime committed by homeless people in the park. While we have great compassion for people who are living in the park without services for addiction, mental health issues, and more, we also need the park for our youth and seniors and for the community in general.
We note that Westchester Park is not the only place people dwelling in their vehicles can reside. There are thousands of other locations in which to dwell in one’s car other than Westchester Park.
It is clear that the City Council and the Mayor, in the passage and signing of LAMC 41.18, intended those sensitive locations be protected. We believe the Mayor would be willing to lift the moratorium prohibiting enforcement in parks pursuant to LAMC 63.44, just as the Mayor lifted the moratorium as to enforcement pursuant to LAMC 80.69.4.
You announced on Twitter a couple weeks ago that the park would be safe again after your Encampments to Home Program is completed. That was a promise to your constituents. Please request that Mayor Garcetti lift the Emergency Order on enforcement of LAMC Sec. 63.44 in parks.
(Editor’s note: Residents in Westchester are collecting signatures to support enforcement and that letter will be sent to the Mayor.)