Venice Councilwoman Traci Park is taking action to address the growing concern about "van lords" who rent out RVs to people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles.

Venice Councilwoman Traci Park is taking action to address the growing concern about “van lords” who rent out RVs to people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles.

Park presented a motion on Tuesday seeking to tighten regulations on RV sales and leasing in public rights-of-way that would try to limit the number of vehicles on local streets.

While Santa Monica has a longstanding prohibition against public camping that includes living in vehicles, the van rental business has been a problem in Venice for years. The van rental concept, although once unprecedented, has gained attention as a makeshift solution in a region where exorbitant rents have left many struggling to make ends meet. Basic shelter at an affordable price presents an appealing alternative to sleeping on the streets or facing the challenges of overcrowded shelters.

However concerns have been raised by locals and community leaders. The presence of multiple vans, has led to disputes over limited parking spaces and sanitation issues particularly in the Ballona where van dwellers are accused of dumping waste into the ecologically sensitive wetland.

Efforts to address the problem have been limited so far. Organizations that provide safe parking locations have limited capacity and are often unable to accommodate the kind of non-operational vans that are being repurposed as makeshift housing.

“These practices capitalize on the vulnerability of our homeless community, reduce available parking, and create significant life safety issues,” Park said.

The proposed amendment would add RVs to the list of vehicles prohibited from conducting business in public rights-of-way and affirm RV lessors’ responsibility to adhere to state codes related to health, safety, and vehicle operation.

Park emphasized the importance of safety standards, stating that the state codes are in place to ensure they are met. The motion also calls for the creation of an escalating fine structure to impose penalties on vehicle owners that correspond to administrative code enforcement citations.

The need for tighter regulations is highlighted by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority’s 2022 Point-In-Time Count, which shows that approximately 6,500 individuals are living in 4,000 RVs across the city, a 40% increase since 2018. This group now comprises 22% of the city’s total unsheltered homeless population.

Park’s proposal seeks to close loopholes and identify necessary regulations to ensure the safety and well-being of the homeless community while addressing the issues of reduced parking and public safety. Her motion is a step towards ensuring a safer and more secure environment for the homeless population in Los Angeles.

Published in partnership with the Westside Current.


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Matthew Hall

Matthew Hall has a Masters Degree in International Journalism from City University in London and has been Editor-in-Chief of SMDP since 2014. Prior to working at SMDP he managed a chain of weekly papers...