By CHRISTIAN MONTERROSA | Reporter
The California Coastal Commission voted in favor of implementing parking restrictions on Pacific Coast Highway from Coastline Drive to Topanga Canyon Boulevard on Thursday, October 17.
Requested by the Los Angeles Department of Public Works, the restrictions would be enforced along a 0.7-mile stretch on PCH that falls in unincorporated Los Angeles County. Parking will be prohibited on the landward side of PCH between midnight and 2 a.m. and on the seaward side between 2 and 4 a.m. daily.
The new rules, which will affect a stretch of PCH that can accommodate 274 vehicles, are the county’s attempt at making the beach more accessible, and clearing out an area that has become a haven for overnight parking and people who live in RVs.
“The county has indicated that the intent of the proposed staggered parking restriction that’s at this location is to increase parking turnover and discourage overnight parking of vehicles and for extended periods of more than 24 hours due to safety and sanitations issues,” said Steve Hudson, California Coastal Commission deputy director, in his presentation of the project.
Hudson said the county has “indicated that they are working to develop a safe harbor or safe parking lot program, including through the county’s homeless initiative within this area and provide for designated locations for free overnight parking of large vehicles,” but that approval for such a program was not part of the current application.
The appeal, filed by LA residents Raven Williams and Pamela Johnson, argued that the parking restrictions will “adversely impact public access as intended to be maximized 24/7 in the original Coastal Act.”
The Coastal Commission staff recommendation and vote did not agree with Johnson’s appeal, but a debate was started on whether “increasing coastal access” would come at the cost of negatively contributing to the city’s housing crisis.
“I sort of question whether this is really about public access or whether it’s a thinly veiled attempt to sort of remove homeless individuals from being able to park safely and so it doesn’t feel very good to approve this matter so I’m a bit torn about it,” said Commissioner Sara Aminzadeh, who invited everyone to think deeper about the issue.
Commissioner Effie Turnbull-Sanders pointed out that placing further restrictions and enforcement on homeless campers will only contribute to a vicious cycle that places further financial burdens and criminal records on people who are struggling to get by.
“If we’re now saying that the real reason potentially is for environmental concerns, maybe there’s a way in the next meeting with the county to talk about enforcement,” Turnbull-Sanders said.
CCC then voted unanimously against the appeal and approving the restrictions to be implemented.
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