Diane Butler and her husband, Abraham, are among many who may be forced to leave the Venice section of Los Angeles by regulations limiting street parking and banning R.V.’s from beach lots.
LOS ANGELES — Every day, Diane Butler and her husband park their two hand-painted R.V.’s in a lot at the edge of Venice Beach here, alongside dozens of other rickety, rusted campers from the 1970s and ’80s. During the day, she sells her artwork on the boardwalk. When the parking lot closes at sunset, she and the other R.V.-dwellers drive a quarter-mile inland to find somewhere on the street to park for the night. Their nomadic existence might be ending, though. The Venice section of Los Angeles has become the latest California community to enact strict new regulations limiting street parking and banning R.V.’s from beach lots — regulations that could soon force Ms. Butler, 58, to leave the community where she has lived for four decades. “They’re making it hard for people in vehicles to remain in Venice,” she said.
Southern California, with its forgiving weather, has long been a popular destination for those living in vehicles and other homeless people. And for decades, people living in R.V.’s, vans and cars have settled in Venice, the beachfront Los Angeles community once known as the “Slum by the Sea” and famous for its offbeat, artistic culture. Yet even as the economic downturn has forced more people out of their homes and into their cars, vehicle-dwellers are facing fewer options, with more communities trying to push them out. As nearby neighborhoods and municipalities passed laws restricting overnight parking in recent years, Venice became the center of vehicle dwelling in the region. More than 250 vehicles now serve as shelter on Venice streets, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. “The only place between Santa Barbara and San Diego where campers can park seven blocks from the beach is this little piece of land,” said City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, whose district includes Venice. “Over the years, it’s only gotten worse, as every other community along the coast has adopted restrictions.”