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Homeless Are Moving to Hotels – Where Can We Move RV Dwellers?

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Mayor Karen Bass’ Inside Safe initiative has gotten 14,000 off the streets and into housing, according to the latest announcement from her office.

But what of those living in RVs who don’t want to leave their  vehicles, their pets, their stuff?

We asked city and county officials to weigh in on the weighty matter – as the blight of the trailers parked on neighborhood streets doesn’t seem to be diminishing.

“The RVs are a bigger nut to crack for a number of reasons,” Mayor Bass told Valley News Group. “A lot of people don’t actually own their own, but rent them – sometimes from a criminal element. We’re working with law enforcement to resolve that issue, as we recognize that the situation is unacceptable.”

Bass said her office has been trying to deal with the RV issue for the past six months, in conjunction with Inside Safe.

“Where we’re going to end up with RVs is going to be safe parking in outlying areas. We’re not going to put them on Ventura Boulevard. I get the feeling this is not going to be council specific but broader than that. We just got the valuation back on various city properties we have identified as possible sites. There are suitable properties. They will just have to have infrastructure – sewage, trash, water, services,” Bass said. “We’re not all there but we’re headed in the right direction. By next month we should see movement in that area.”

Councilman Bob Blumenfield concurred with Bass on the problem with getting the RVs off the streets.

“What to do with RVs on our streets and where to put RV lots has been a tough issue for a while – the courts have undone our laws and severely limited our options,” he explained. “Many of the RVs we see on the street don’t actually function, but because the Courts have said that even if they are parked illegally, if they are being used as a residence they cannot be towed without the owner’s consent.  

We have some City pilot programs that pay people for their dilapidated RVs if they agree to move into interim housing. Those RVs are then turned into scrap so that they do not get used again.  This program is great, but is difficult to scale and only works for individuals who actually own their RV – it doesn’t work for folks who are paying ‘rent’  – often to unscrupulous ‘vanlords’ who are doing this illegally. 

Right now, while we have several ‘safe parking’ lots in the districts, there are no excess city-owned parcels in CD3 that could handle an RV safe parking lot, mostly because we would need a massive amount of room just to be able to turn around a few of them. There might be privately owned lots, but land cost alone can make this cost prohibitive. My staff and I have reached out to countless West Valley property owners, but when we mention this idea, the conversation often stops. 

My staff and I have been speaking with Supervisor Horvath and her staff as this is a regional issue we are all focused on and together we are working on creating more regional solutions. We need to be compassionate, but it is not acceptable for our public parking spots to become substandard living quarters.”

Supervisor Horvath, whose district encompasses the San Fernando Valley, told Valley News Group, ““Earlier this year, I amended a motion by Mayor Bass at the Metro Board to use Metro parking lots and properties to stand up not only housing solutions but RV parking solutions to help people safely transition to stable, supportive housing options. People currently residing in RVs need safe parking to ensure their belongings are not lost or destroyed while they move into supportive housing. My team is working with the County’s Homeless Initiative; the City of Los Angeles, including the Council offices; and service providers on solutions to RV homelessness. The good news is that there are skilled organizations that can support this work, and my team is actively engaging on how to make this happen everywhere these services are needed in the District.”

Update at presstime, the L.A. City Council did vote this week to ban overnight parking at six locations in Council District 11 on the westside. Though controversial the resolution is to minimize RVs and oversized vehicles on designated streets.

Councilman Blumenfield was able to get no overnight parking signs at one location in Woodland Hills behind Trader Joe’s next to the freeway. Obviously it is a continuing issue that all levels of government are attempting to tackle.

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