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Bill Proposes Using Caltrans Space To Store RVs From Homeless Encampments

By Linh Tat

Assemblymember Rich Chavez Zbur, D-Hollywood, has announced a bill – sponsored by Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass – to allow the city of L.A. and other government agencies to lease land from the California Department of Transportation to store recreational vehicles surrendered by homeless people living in RVs as they transition to permanent or interim housing.

Under existing law, Caltrans can lease property for $1 a month to a local government to operate an emergency shelter or feeding services. Assembly Bill 2525, known as the Los Angeles Recreational Vehicle Lot Program, would expand that arrangement to include the storage of RVs.

“Many candidates for services like transitional housing have RVs that have served as their only shelter after becoming homeless,” Zbur, who chairs the Assembly Democratic Caucus, said in a news release on Monday, April 8. “This bill will free up space under freeways and other areas – which often otherwise go unused – to provide crucial storage for these RVs so that people can move into housing and receive critical services to relieve homelessness.”

Nearly 6,500 Angelenos experiencing homelessness are living in about 4,000 RVs within the city of L.A. – a number that’s grown by 40% since 2018, according to Zbur’s office, which cited data from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.

In December, L.A. city officials cleared a massive RV encampment in the San Fernando Valley – on Forest Lawn Drive near Warner Bros. Studios – as part of the mayor’s Inside Safe program to move people living on the streets indoors.

According to Zbur’s office, the city’s existing RV storage lots are 95% full, and the city is in need of additional space to store more surrendered vehicles. Bass, in a statement, said Zbur’s bill is critical in getting people into housing.

“In order to successfully confront the homelessness crisis, we need a unique approach to address RV encampments,” the mayor said.

According to the text of the proposed legislation, local municipalities would pay $1 per month, plus an annual administrative fee of up to $500, to lease airspace under a freeway overpass or other Caltrans properties.

The use of Caltrans airspace came under heavy scrutiny last year following a fire under the 10 Freeway that shut down a segment of this major artery running through downtown Los Angeles for eight days in November.

To address safety concerns, the proposed bill states that RVs stored in such spaces shall be uninhabited, assessed for safe storage and must not contain hazardous material “except those commonly found in vehicles.”

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