Among the more amusing items I’ve run across are pending amendments to the city’s zoning ordinance concerning parking and access provisions in parking lots and parking structures with more than 40 parking spaces — approved by the Planning Commission last week and forwarded to City Council for action.

While you might be scratching your head and asking why is Bauer writing about such inconsequential minutiae; the devil is in the details.

The first amendment is a howler. The present code prohibits obstructions that obscure or block the visibility of vehicles entering or exiting an alley, driveway, parking lot, street intersection or other right of way, which would pose a hazard to pedestrians. A 5-foot hazardous visual area must be kept clear of any planting or development higher than 24 inches. OK.

Then, the code inexplicably suggests that speed bumps which are usually only a few inches high could be a mitigation for lack of visibility. Wisely, the proposed amendment suggests that speed bumps “are not a good solution to provide alternative visibility and because they are impractical and may in fact introduce a different type of hazard, it is proposed to remove the reference to speed bumps in two sub-sections of this code section.” Whew! It’s about time.

Planning staff also proposed to allow parking spaces that would require four maneuvers to get in and out of to create additional parking. Four maneuvers is: “(1) reverse out; (2) pull forward but not quite clear enough to exit; (3) back up again; and (4) pull out.” Current code says, ”a parking space shall not require more than two vehicle maneuvers,” but amending the code would allow those few presently unusable “tight” spaces to be utilized.

Staff predicts this will reduce the demand for on-street parking and allow applicants to accommodate more trees and other landscaping. Right. And, cure world hunger, too. Of course, there’s no mention of backed up traffic while waiting for motorists to execute four point maneuvers. But with my little car, it’s a rare break for me.

Speaking of parking, If you’re planning on driving Downtown to see the pier fireworks display Wednesday evening, be advised you’ll be clipped $15 to park in garages and $20 at beach lots. The pier deck is closed for parking. People going Downtown for a movie and eats will get hit, too. Gouging patrons is such a great way to win friends for the city.


ACLU trips up again and again<p>

I’ve been watching the Southern California branch of the American Civil Liberties Union since they and their pro-bono law firm, Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP filed a lawsuit in Federal Court against the city and our police department for “violating the constitutional rights of chronically homeless people by arresting and harassing them” via enforcing city camping ordinances.

This isn’t the first time the ACLU has been on the wrong side of an issue. Two months ago, a 50-year-old transient with a history of violent crime and drug abuse was charged in the murder of Lily Burk, a 17-year-old Los Feliz girl whose battered body was found in her car at 5th and Alameda in Downtown L.A. the morning after she disappeared.

Los Angeles Police officers had arrested Charlie Samuel the night Burk went missing for drinking in public and possession of drug paraphernalia — the sort of “quality of life” offenses targeted by ACLU-types who oppose the LAPD’s Safer Cities initiative.

Samuel’s fingerprints and other evidence linking him to Burk’s murder were found in the murdered girl’s car which was parked a few blocks away from where Samuel was originally arrested.

The ACLU and other homeless advocacy groups have charged that the LAPD is criminalizing homelessness by arresting those in Skid Row for menial offenses such as drinking in public. Just as they claim similar ordinances and their enforcement criminalizes homeless persons here in Santa Monica.

There’s more bad ACLU news. A high-profile federal lawsuit against Proposition 8, the anti-gay-marriage initiative, launched by Los Angeles political consultant Chad H. Griffin, drew anger and criticism from gay rights lawyers when it was filed last May according to Los Angeles news sources.

It didn’t take long for lawyers who criticized the lawsuit to ask to join as full participants, request a place at the table and to help develop legal strategy. “You have unrelentingly and unequivocally acted to undermine this case even before it was filed,” Griffin wrote lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights in a letter. “In light of this, it is inconceivable that you would zealously and effectively litigate this case if you were successful in intervening.”

The ACLU seems to be grasping at straws these days with pathetic publicity stunts that obscure real purpose and common sense. It’s time for new leadership and a renewed focus — before it loses all credibility.

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