As many of you know, my staff and I have been wrestling with the dilemma of people living in their vehicles. We have been striving for a balanced approach — one that helps those who need help, and also moves vehicles with people living in them from residential streets.
Last year, the city of Los Angeles began enforcing parking restrictions on oversized vehicles on streets where residents and property owners requested such restrictions. At the same time, we have been crafting a program called Roadmap to Housing (formerly known as Vehicles to Homes), which provide services, safe parking, and housing placement for people living in their vehicles.
Roadmap to Housing’s main goal is to find permanent housing for people living in their vehicles. The Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) has already committed 25 housing vouchers to the program, and the Veterans Administration (VA) has committed to enough vouchers for eligible veterans already canvassed in Council District 11 — West Los Angeles/Venice. Because of aggressive enforcement of parking restrictions, People Assisting the Homeless (PATH) may need some legal public parking spaces for program participants to stay while PATH processes vouchers and makes housing arrangements. PATH would manage the spaces and require participants to follow a strict code of conduct and receive social services.
Earlier this month, the City Attorney’s Office released a draft ordinance (LAMC 85.11) that would allow PATH to legally operate such a program in designated public parking spaces. While the intent and particulars of that draft ordinance were distorted as part of a public misinformation campaign, many of the public comments generated raised legitimate concerns.
As a result, at the next meeting of the Transportation Committee, I intend to ask the city attorney to amend the proposed ordinance:
• The first draft of the ordinance would have allowed program participants to park on designated street segments. I will ask the city attorney to delete that provision.
• The first draft of the ordinance would have permitted PATH to operate the program in any publicly-owned parking lot with a proper buffer from residences. I will ask the city attorney to restrict PATH to two lots: the municipally-owned lots at my field offices in Westchester and West L.A.
• The first draft of the ordinance calls for a 50-foot buffer between any PATH-supervised parking space and a residence. That buffer will remain in place for the Westchester and West L.A. lots.
• The first draft of the ordinance would have allowed up to five vehicles per PATH-supervised lot. Since my other amendments will reduce overall parking inventory, we are considering what we should raise the number to for the two participating lots.
PATH will use the parking lot spaces, if needed, but will concentrate its program on street case management and helping people access permanent housing. PATH may not need to use all of the spaces in the lots, and may not need to use the lots at all. As long as vouchers are available, PATH officials are confident they can place into housing those people living in vehicles who need and want a home.
Like any important matter of public policy, this ordinance is a work in progress, and there are many more opportunities to be heard. Before this matter goes to the full City Council next month, there are three public meetings:
• Venice Neighborhood Council
March 22 at 6:30 p.m.
Westminster Elementary School Auditorium
1010 Abbot Kinney Blvd.,
Venice, Calif., 90291
• Transportation Committee (City Hall)
March 23 and April 13, at 2 p.m.
200 N. Spring St., #1050
Los Angeles, 90012
We’re almost there, folks! I hope we continue to work together to make this a model the rest of Los Angeles will be proud of.
Bill Rosendahl is a Los Angeles City Councilman representing District 11, which includes West Los Angeles and Venice. He lives in Mar Vista.