Saturday, May 3, 2008

Deadline for signing RV petition extended.

The deadline for signing the petition regarding the Recreational Vehicles permitted to park indefinitely on our streets has been extended through this weekend.

There are more than 200 signatures collected so far, this issue is concerning a lot of us here in Venice. These vehicles are parked all over our neighborhood with no regard to the residents quality of life. Buckets of sewage dumped trash left behind and blocking residents parking.

1 comment:

SOV said...

To Whom It May Concern:

While I empathize with your angst re: RVs and campers on the streets of Venice I would like to inform you that not all the RV dwellers are "transient" but are forced to live in their vehicle because of high rents in Venice and surrounding areas. Many of these so-called "transients" used to rent in Venice until they were either evicted because their dwelling was sold or because they were forced out as they could no longer afford the high rents.

Our organization, The Benefit Network, founded in 1987, operated out of a small store front on Abbot Kinney Blvd. until 1997, when we were forced to move as the owners took over the space and converted it into a high-price boutique. Since then we have moved to a small space on Westminster Avenue and acquired an RV that serves as an office and outreach vehicle to the homeless in Venice, as part of our US Peace Army/People In Need projects. Since we have been parked on 5th Avenue, close to San Juan Avenue, we have been the subject of repeated harassment by certain local residents, LAPD and the Parking Violations Bureau.

These are some of our accomplishments:

1) We have successfully helped to stem the flood of feral cats reproducing next to our parking location by taking part in a spay/neuter program for the past three years. We continue to feed and provide sanctuary for feral cats who would otherwise be without food or shelter.

2) We have successfully removed trash that was continuously piled up on vacant curbside plots, converting one such plot into a curbside garden that now hosts a fig tree, a peach tree, several aloe plants and a variety of tomato plants that spring up spontaneously from vegetable waste used to fertilize the ground. We have created a mini-eco-system that provides a natural environment visited by humming birds, bees and other native fauna.

3) We provide food and clothing to homeless people through the donations of friendly neighbors who wish to help their homeless brothers and sisters.

4) We have successfully removed crack dealers from the bushes located next to our RV parking location. This is an ongoing problem which requires constant vigilance as the crack dealers use this particular location to meet their customers and smoke crack. We have done this without LAPD intervention and will continue to do so as long as necessary, owing to the fact that there are vulnerable youth living in the immediate area.

We have done all of the above as a "service to our community" in the spirit of our public benefit purpose. Yet, none of the neighbors, who are most opposed to our presence, have even taken the time to find out what we are doing. We have, however, written letters to the most agressive of them who have, at times, threatened to have our vehicle towed and, on several occasions, blocked us from parking in our usual location. Most of the residents on this block have their own on-premises parking and often the street is empty of vehicles at night and early in the morning. Most of the vehicles that park on this block belong to people who either work locally or visit the bar at the corner of Abbot Kinney and San Juan.

The concern over sewage on the streets in a viable concern but cannot be solely attributed to people living in their vehicles. We have a growing homeless population that moves onto our sidewalks, especially in the summer, who contribute largely to this problem. I would like to recommend more public toilets, generally. Considering the fact that Venice is a global tourist destination, we have shockingly few public restroom facilities available -- which is, frankly, scandalous!

Venice is in the process of gentrification, there's no secret about that, and the neigborhood is being exploited by big developers with small minds -- and their clientele who, looking for a bargain in the as yet "undeveloped" Venice community are pushing their own selfish agendas at the expense of those who have lived here for years. There is a price to pay when you convert a low-income area into a high-price ghetto! Now that the real estate bubble is bursting, some residents are looking for scapegoats upon whom to dump their frustration and anger - resulting in criminalizing and victimizing the poor.

This situation needs to be handled with compassion and reason -- there, but for the Grace of God, go I.