Grand Park. Courtesy Grand Park.
Grand Park. Courtesy Grand Park.

An ordinance prohibiting people from leaving their personal items, tents and bulky items at city parks, while also allowing city officials to remove the items as soon as the park closes or with 24-hours notice, won the backing Monday of the City Council’s Arts, Parks, Health, Aging and River Committee.

Under the proposed rules, the city would be able to remove items that remain at the park after closing hours if the park has a sign stating that items must be removed before park closure. If there is no sign, then 24-hours notice may be given before the property is be removed.

The city currently gives 72-hours notice before removing items, a Recreation and Parks official told the committee.

The proposed ordinance is based on a motion by Councilman Mike Bonin, who said some people have been known to bring “sofas, couches, armchairs and mattresses onto park property.”

The items “contribute to visual blight and clutter while the park is open” and “park-goers often cannot fully enjoy the beauty and recreational opportunities that the parks provide when bulky items mar views and take up valuable park space,” according to the motion.

Though the motion does not specify who is bringing the items to parks, some residents have complained to Bonin’s office about homeless people being allowed to stay overnight at Venice Beach.

Some Venice residents are also suing the city, alleging city officials have not done enough to address safety and nuisance issues they say stem from people being allowed to camp overnight at the beach.

Kevin Regan, with the Recreation and Parks Department, said park rangers have a policy of giving the owners of the items a chance to voluntarily remove them.

“Our rangers do approach this from a very compassionate standpoint, understanding individuals oftentimes need medical care — often times need other types of services, so we do offer that as well if necessary,” Regan said.

Bonin said after the committee meeting that “city parks are for everyone to enjoy and this simple ordinance update will make it easier for city employees to keep parks clean and safe.”

Under the draft ordinance, any removed property would be kept by the city for 90 days, after which unclaimed property can be thrown away.

The ordinance would also prohibit tents from being erected at the parks, though umbrellas and sunshades would still be permitted. Barriers around personal property would also be banned, under the ordinance.

Any item that is a health or safety risk — such as something that could spread disease or contains vermin — would be discarded without giving notice. Items considered contraband or evidence of a crime could also be removed by the city without notice, under the proposed rules.

The ordinance still needs approval from the full council and the mayor.

—City News Service

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