Parking permit may be ticket out of homelessness

web County of Ventura Parking ordinance map copy
Map courtesy County of Ventura
A map shows new parking restrictions that will take effect next month in the North Ventura Avenue and Crooked Palm Road areas.

Perry Van Houten, Ojai Valley News senior reporter
County supervisors voted Tuesday to adopt new restrictions on parking in the North Ventura Avenue and Crooked Palm Road areas, south of Casitas Springs.
By a 5-0 vote, the board adopted the ordinance introduced by 1st District Supervisor Steve Bennett that will restrict some areas to “no parking anytime,” some to “no overnight parking” and others to “no parking overnight, except by permit.”
The number of vehicles parked in the area has tripled since the pandemic began, according to county officials, by people experiencing homelessness and having no access to other housing.
Local residents have complained to Bennett’s office about trash, the removal of waste and possible fires.
Homeowners have also expressed concerns about unsightly vehicles and people in need of homeless services.
In order to park overnight in the two areas designated “no parking overnight, except by permit,” a participant will be required to actively take part in a county-run parking program that includes housing support services and ensures the responsible disposal of waste, prohibits open fires, requires vehicles to be registered and operable, and requires drivers to be properly licensed.
Recently, the county has set up one-stop homeless services in the area on Thursdays, providing assistance with everything from medical care to food stamp applications. The county has also arranged for trash dumpsters and shower pods.
The parking restrictions and pilot safe-parking program expire after one year and will come back to the board for further review. “This is not trying to permanently locate anything. It’s an attempt to try and take a step down,” Bennett said.
During Tuesday’s second public hearing on the proposed ordinance, one speaker opposed to the new rules said the county needs to provide an area, such as an RV park, that offers the homeless community electricity, running water and waste removal.
Supervisors also heard written comments regarding concerns for the environment and Ventura River watershed, and concerns that people who don’t obtain permits will simply move to another area or neighborhood.
Bennett has said the goal is to solve the problem instead of moving it to another area of the county.
“It will end the biggest concern that I’ve heard from residents, which is that this will continue to grow,” he told the board on Tuesday. “This will stop the growth and shrink this down to something that is manageable, and then be able to be addressed again.”
The ordinance is due to take effect on Dec. 10.