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Venice to set up safe overnight parking program

July 27, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
There's a new plan to help homeless people who are now sleeping in their cars or campers on the streets of Venice. The plan calls for safe overnight parking, complete with services to get them off the streets eventually.Residents say that by nightfall the streets are filled with campers and people in their cars sleeping overnight. Many residents are hoping a new program by the city will change that.

"Venice has the most visible brunt of the problem," said Venice Neighborhood Council President Linda Lucks. "It's obvious when you come here that the problem is most visible here, but if you drive around Los Angeles, and you go under freeway off-ramps, and you look, you'll see people living in their vehicles all over the city."

"The chief complaint here is that the streets are getting overcrowded with campers, that some of the people, some of the behaviors of people in campers are unacceptable," said David Ewing, Venice Community Coalition.

Lucks says fed-up residents like her are thrilled city officials have signed off on the safe overnight parking program.

"It's designed to move people who need help and want help off the streets into parking areas that have case workers assigned to them and then ultimately into housing," said Lucks. "It's a handout to people that want it and need it."

The program is expected to be implemented in Venice and other communities throughout Los Angeles by the end of the year. It would mirror similar efforts in Santa Barbara and cities in other states.

The program would provide bathrooms, showers and trash facilities to overnighters in the designated parking areas.

"I got a $35 ticket. Santa Monica Police towed away my $20,000 car, bought and paid for. So now I'm basically homeless on the streets of Venice," said Brian Bodie.

"I think it could be a good idea if it's implemented correctly," said Bodie about the overnight parking program. "I think if it starts turning into a compound where people are forced to go to, I think it could be a lot of trouble."

A homeless man didn't want to be identified said he won't have anything to do with the program.

"Why should I have to go sleep in a concrete parking structure?" he asked.

Officials say no one will be forced into the designated areas, which have yet to be determined.

"There will be no more than three to five vehicles in any one location, so this fear that there's going to be lots full of people, that's not going to be the way it works," said Lucks.

L.A. City Councilman Bill Rosendahl secured $750,000 for the program.


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