(Editor’s note: The December 15 story is reprinted by permission of Westside Current. Circling the News had asked CD 11 Candidate Allison Polhill about the camper by Westminister Elementary School in early November when she was working for LAUSD under Nick Melvoin as Chief Advisor and District Director. Fencing was put up so that students would not be able to view any possible illegal activities. The van has remained on the street by the school. Polhill was asked about the cost of the fencing. She responded on December 16, that “LAUSD has spent a substantial amount of money to put up privacy fencing at the Early Education Center and that lines Main Street – probably combined cost is close to $100,000.”)
BY JAMIE PAIGE
An RV that has had numerous run-ins with the law–and is currently parked in front of an elementary school–appears to be paying homage to Councilmember Mike Bonin and getting a lot of attention on social media for it.
The RV parked outside Westminster Elementary School in Venice has a painted mural of Bonin on the side.
In a recent post by “Gutter People of Los Angeles,” a private Instagram account, a photo of the RV is posted with the message: “Almost two years ago this RV owner drove from Texas with a lengthy criminal record and parked in a school bus loading zone. Mike Bonin aggressively pushed back against residents who wanted a safe zone around schools. As a sign of gratitude, Bonin’s face is now painted on the RV. ”
The post has received more than 600 likes and more than 30 comments. The photo has also been shared on several other social media sites.
About the RV
The RV has had a lot of history in the community. It parked in a bus loading zone in front of Westminster Elementary School at the beginning of COVID.
The owners have participated in multiple lawsuits against elected officials, the police, and homeowners who live near it since it moved in.
One lawsuit asks for $1 million in punitive damages each against Chief Michael Moore, City Council members and other LAPD and city officials for alleged brutality and thuggery.
The suit was based on an arrest of the RV owner on August 27. The owner was arrested on felony vandalism charges, according to LAPD. The lawsuit alleges the arrest was made without a valid warrant or probable cause.
The owners are also suing residents in the area for what they allege is thuggery and harassment. That suit is also asking for $1 million.
The lawsuit alleges that the neighbors used force and or violence and repeatedly harassed them. However, residents who live near the RV say they have not done any of the alleged accusations and say the owners have caused a lot of nuisances and sanitation issues.
In addition, multiple residents say they have documented numerous cases of loud music throughout the night– violent threats against them and their families as well as suspicious activity.
The owners also filed a federal class-action lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles. That suit alleges that parking restrictions being imposed by LA violate the civil rights of people who live in recreational vehicles because they have no other place to live.
RV Dwelling Regulations
Residents on the Westside are hoping that a motion submitted by Councilmember Joe Buscaino will create some relief for RV’s that line residential streets and are allowed to remain in sensitive areas like schools, parks, and the Ballona Wetlands.
“I hear you,” said Buscaino, who submitted a motion in October that calls to have the City’s Anti-Dwelling ordinance, LAMC 85.02, reinstated. “As far as RVs, I’ve heard you loud and clear just like I did with the bike chop shops.”
LA passed 85.02, a law that bans vehicle dwellers from spending the night near homes, parks, and schools a few years ago. The law allowed vehicles to dwell on a scattering of streets in industrial and commercial districts only. The ordinance, however, had a sunset date of January 1, 2020, which was not extended, leaving no regulations or restrictions on vehicle dwelling whatsoever on any street in the City.
Residents on the Westside say they were counting on the new anti-camping law, LAMC 41.18, to help clear streets lined with RVs–especially those parked outside schools and at parks like the RV in Venice and the ones parked near Westside Neighborhood School (WNS). However, they learned since that ordinance passed–they needed LAMC 85.02 to be in place to regulate dwelling in vehicles.
Parents who have kids who go to both schools have been asking for relief from the RV’s. Many parents say that safety and sanitation are a major cause for concern.
The motion Buscaino submitted establishes a permit system that would allow the City to regulate vehicle dwelling better and prevent over-concentration in any community. It also ensures those living in their vehicles are connected to services and are put into the Coordinated Entry System–“The first step on the path to housing,” Busciano said.
The motion also calls for lodging to be prohibited on City streets between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. and prohibits storing personal belongings that look like vehicle dwelling and cooking in vehicles.