If you live in Venice, CA and you pay attention to local politics – you will, no doubt, eventually come across the name Mark Ryavec. To some, he is a hero who seeks to gentrify Venice and improve it’s ‘quality of life’; while to others, he is a villain and, some might say, a bigot – who seeks to rid Venice of it’s free-spirited homeless population and install permit-parking on its streets, in an attempt to protect 24 hour street parking for residents only. How you perceive Ryavec, the man, may depend entirely on which side of the argument you come down on.
But for those who are still straddling the fence, let’s take a look at what we know about Ryavec, the man – courtesy of Google.
To begin with, Mark Ryavec is the president of Venice Stakeholders Association – whose mission is: “dedicated to civic improvement”; and, as such, in March, 2013, filed a complaint to the Department Of Neighborhood Empowerment (DONE) for an “Investigation of Ethics Violation by Linda Lucks, President of the Venice Neighborhood Council’ (a position that Ryavec has coveted for several years, having run – and lost to Linda Lucks, twice, for the position of president – in the last two local Neighborhood elections).
Ryavec is a leading proponent of Preferential Parking Districts (PPDs) in Venice and has spearheaded a movement to implement Overnight Parking Districts (OPDs) for the past several years. Twice he, and his supporters, have lobbied the City of L.A. (COLA) and the CA Coastal Commission (CCC) for OPDs in Venice – and twice, first in 2009 and then in 2010 his efforts have been thwarted by those who prefer to keep the streets of Venice free – and open to all – in alignment with the CA Coastal Act of 1976.
In spite of his two stinging defeats at the CCC in 2009 and 2010, Ryavec has drummed up support to continue his lawsuit, started in 2010, which according to the Venice Beachhead argues that: “no Coastal Commission approval is needed in order to establish OPDs in Venice. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, although at first against Ryavec’s lawsuit, changed his mind and joined forces with Ryavec against the Coastal Commission.”
On April 16, 2013 the proposed lawsuit settlement was brought before the VNC monthly board meeting. Ryavec and a panel of OPD supporters (Arturo Pina, District Director of CD11; Jane Usher, Senior Advisor to the City Attorney; and Tamara Martin of LADOT) discussed the OPD settlement being proposed to CCC –
On October 15, 2012, according to PRnewswire, Mr. Ryavec announced his candidacy for the CD11 seat on Los Angeles City Council vacated by Bill Rosendahl. “Formerly a legislative analyst for the City Council and chief deputy tax assessor for Los Angeles County, [Ryavec] said he is running to return the City’s focus to traditional municipal services.”
However, claiming “lackluster community and fundraising support”, Ryavec “quietly” withdrew his candidacy on November 7, 2012 stating:
“When I decided to enter this race I thought that I would be running against Councilman Bill Rosendahl. He appeared to be confident that he would recover from the cancer that he was battling and run for a third term.
In the end, as we have seen, he has continued to improve but also made the prudent decision to focus on his health and not run.
In very short order, Bill endorsed his deputy Mike Bonin and Bonin immediately announced his candidacy, released the names of a whole passel of campaign co-chairs and endorsements from senior Democratic party elected officials and then reported that he had raised over $50,000 in nine days. As a former political consultant myself, I have to say, “Well played, Mike.”
Later, on February 8, 2013, Ryavec endorsed former City prosecutor of 25 years, Tina Hess, in the CD11 race, presumably in the hope that Hess would carry on the fight to rid Venice of its homeless population. As it turned out, Rosendahl’s deputy, Mike Bonin, won the race hands down; and we have yet to see if he will follow in Rosendahl’s footsteps, policy-wise.
Previous to these recent political sorties, Ryavec was always very verbal on the issue of (not) helping the homeless. For example, on June 17, 2012 he brought a motion before the VNC to step up police enforcement of city codes aimed at homeless people living on Venice streets.
Earlier, on May 17, 2012, he had posted this article on Venice Patch: “Food Giveaways on Venice Beach Enable Status Quo, Ineffective at Helping People Get into Housing” – arguing that feeding hungry people was not a constitutionally protected activity and only served to encourage homeless people to stay in Venice. Ryavec omits to acknowledge that there is no affordable housing available for homeless people – which is why many remain on the streets.
On March 3, 2012, in an article about a proposed ferris wheel at Venice Beach (opposed by many Venetians), the LAIST reported Ryavec (who never misses an opportunity to push his agenda) as stating: “the wheel could grant Venice the chance to apply with the Coastal Commission for 24-hour preferential parking permits for beach-adjacent residents.”
Ryavec always, it would seem, a law unto himself, has spearheaded a number of attacks on what he considers to be ‘blight’ on the streets of Venice, namely homeless people sleeping on sidewalks and living in vehicles. And, in April 2012, to get back at those sympathetic to the homeless dilemma, he published a list of names and home addresses of 11 activists, journalists and politicians “who he said shouldn’t mind having the homeless set up tents and sleeping bags outside their doors because they had expressed sympathy for them.” In fact, he even offered $20 to any homeless person who would set up camp outside their homes.
Back in the summer of 2010, Ryavec started his own personal campaign to rid Venice streets of RVs by lobbying hard “for permit-parking zones that would have locked out many RV dwellers” and claiming “The left here in Venice doesn’t want to see any rules… ’Keep Venice free’ and all this crap. They think there’s something romantic about people living in RVs. This is a marginal existence.” And, for those unable to afford the high rents in Venice and most of Los Angeles, the only existence they can afford.