Families going to the beach this summer will have an easier time finding a parking space thanks to Robin Rudisill of the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC).

LA County officials intended to eliminate 35 parking spaces at the Venice Pier parking lot, but Rudisill convinced them at the last minute to change their plans and to preserve beach access.

This past February, County crews arrived at the beach with bulldozers and started construction on the lot. The South Beach community had received notice in 2005, but it came as a surprise and shock to the community that after 7 years, the project was underway.

Knowing of her involvement in community issues, many residents and business owners in the South Beach area went to Rudisill to express their concerns.

The loss of 35 parking spaces that might turn over 3-4 times in day would result in a significant loss of beach access for visitors. She was also concerned that LA County (the lot’s operator) and local businesses would suffer reduced revenues.

“If we lost those spaces, we would never get them back. I knew I had to do anything and everything to get the spaces back,” she explained.

With absolutely no time to go through normal appeal channels, Robin called a community meeting, inviting County staff and a representative from Councilperson’s Rosendahl’s office.

As she said, “the clock was ticking. I couldn’t take it up any normal processes – it had to be me.”

Over the next few weeks, Robin worked to communicate the concerns and recommendations to various County and City decision-makers. She heard ‘no’ 2-3 dozen times in the space of a month, but she kept to her mission. She stressed that it was critical for them to care about the loss of parking spaces and the resulting impact on the community and its visitors.

She wrote endless emails, made many phone calls, and held more meetings in an effort to get the changes made, but was denied again and again.

With only a couple of days to spare before it would have no longer been possible to make any changes, she got the County to reconfigure the lot design and striping so that only a few spaces would be lost.

She reflects that it was, “one of the most amazing efforts of my life.” She heard, “we can’t do it because…” over and over, but she knew that “no” was not an option and that beach access had to be maintained.

She says of the experience that it was not really a fight, that, “instead of us versus them, it was all us.” No one wanted to take away parking, “it was just working within us to get the thing fixed,” and to find the best solution.

Rudisill is the South Venice Beach representative on the VNC Neighborhood Committee and Public Safety Committee. She credits some of her success to her status as So. Venice Beach rep. and explains that “without having the infrastructure (of the VNC), I couldn’t have done what I did.”