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Venice Beach residents blast LA officials for ignoring their safety as homeless encampments grow


A Venice Beach community organization has warned Los Angeles officials that they’re liable for millions in payouts if the remaining homeless encampments aren’t cleared out, months after the city removed about 200 people from the boardwalk.

The Venice Stakeholders Association sent a letter to several city offices last week explaining that LA could face a number of expensive lawsuits if they fail to protect the safety of nearby residents. 

Those who live in the area have complained about the garbage littering the boardwalk and the unchecked fires started by people camping outside.

Last January, a fire at a homeless tent near the beach spread to a vacant two-story building and completely destroyed it. It took 116 firefighters two hours to put it out.

The city cleared out about 200 people from the area over the summer, but the president of the Venice Stakeholders Association says about 70 people are still camping out overnight.

A Venice Beach community organization warned LA city officials that they may face million-dollar lawsuits if the area near Venice Beach isn't kept clear of encampments

A Venice Beach community organization warned LA city officials that they may face million-dollar lawsuits if the area near Venice Beach isn’t kept clear of encampments. Above, the beach on June 29, 2021

The city cleared out more than 200 people from the area last summer (pictured), but about 70 people are still camping out overnight, according to the head of the Venice Stakeholders Association

The city cleared out more than 200 people from the area last summer, but about 70 people are still camping out overnight, according to the head of the Venice Stakeholders Association

Venice Beach, a popular tourist site, was home to about 2,000 homeless people in 2020

Venice Beach, a popular tourist site, was home to about 2,000 homeless people in 2020

Residents in the area have long complained about garbage, drug use and fires from the encampments

Residents in the area have long complained about garbage, drug use and fires from the encampments

A homeless woman walks past a tent set up in Venice Beach on July 2, 2021

A homeless woman walks past a tent set up in Venice Beach on July 2, 2021

'There's almost no police presence or fire department presence down here overnight,' said Ryavec, who leads the 11-year-old organization, in an interview with KABC

‘There’s almost no police presence or fire department presence down here overnight,’ said Ryavec, who leads the 11-year-old organization, in an interview with KABC

‘There’s almost no police presence or fire department presence down here overnight,’ said Ryavec, who leads the 11-year-old organization, in an interview with KABC.

‘We’re putting the city on notice, that, if there’s loss of life, if there’s a structure, they are clearly already negligent, and they already will face a huge settlement.’

There were 1,901 homeless people in the Venice area in 2020, according to the latest count conducted by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.

Ryavec says that LAPD and sanitation crews come by every Thursday, but that authorities have to come by at least three times a week to keep it completely clear.

‘It’s illegal to camp on Venice Beach,’ Ryavec said. ‘And we want that message established by enforcement of the rules that exist.’

A whopping 94 percent of people living in the City of Angels say homelessness is a serious or very serious problem.

Residents argued that homelessness is the top problem facing the county, with 94 percent of voters viewing it as a serious or very serious problem

Residents argued that homelessness is the top problem facing the county, with 94 percent of voters viewing it as a serious or very serious problem

It was the biggest concern among residents polled, ahead of housing affordability, or traffic, air quality and climate change. 

Four in 10 Los Angeles residents have cited the city’s homelessness problem as a main cause for feeling unsafe in their communities, with one in five people saying they would consider moving to escape the problem.

The poll was conducted by the The Los Angeles Times and the ​​city’s Business Council Institute and surveyed 906 registered voters. 

It revealed that many LA County residents are disappointed with regional leadership, rising senses of disorder and routinely finding urine and feces in the streets.

The poll-takers also expressed concern for the safety of their children. 

‘I didn’t feel safe over there, especially raising my children,’ said Amber Morino, a 35-year-old mother of seven, living in San Fernando Valley. 

‘I am also considering moving out of the state because it’s so bad. Like, I just feel like every corner I turn here there are encampments — campers. It’s just terrible.’

Police have arrested two men accused of lighting 15 trash bins on fire along Ocean Front Walk in Venice Beach on January 25.

Surveillance video shows a man in dark clothes walking past trash cans lining a sidewalk of the popular tourist destination and lighting each of them on fire one by one.

Jonathan Michael Noriega, 32, was arrested on January 27 and charged with arson. His accomplice, Richard Michael David, was arrested on January 31, according to the LA Fire Department.

Last month, a man was caught on video setting fire to a line of trash bins on Ocean Front Walk

Last month, a man was caught on video setting fire to a line of trash bins on Ocean Front Walk

The fires were set on January 25, adding to the issue of unchecked fires often set by those who set up camp in the area

The fires were set on January 25, adding to the issue of unchecked fires often set by those who set up camp in the area

Jonathan Michael Noriega

Richard Michael David

Jonathan Michael Noriega (left) and Richard Michael David (right) were arrested last month and charged with arson in connection with the fires

In January 2021, 116 firefighters put out a fire that spread from a homeless tent to a vacant two-story building at 723 S. Ocean Front Walk, according to KTLA.

It took two hours and 17 minutes from the time the fire was reported to the time it was extinguished. 

The Fire Department said the fire started at an encampment on the south side of the 6,952 sq ft building and threatened two other nearby structures. No one was injured.

‘Any contents within the heavily damaged and now unstable fire building have yet to be identified,’ the Fire Department said at the time.

City officials said 211 people were removed from the boardwalk back in August, with 185 being placed in interim housing, 22 were in hotels or motels and four in permanent housing, LA City Councilman Mike Bonin’s office told KTLA.

The Venice Stakeholders Association told LA city agencies that they could be liable for millions in lawsuits if they don't address the dangerous encampments near Venice Beach. Above, a protest to open LA City Hall to the public again on November 12

The Venice Stakeholders Association told LA city agencies that they could be liable for millions in lawsuits if they don’t address the dangerous encampments near Venice Beach. Above, a protest to open LA City Hall to the public again on November 12

In January 2021, 116 firefighters worked for two hours to put out a fire that spread from a homeless tent on Venice Beach to a vacant two-story building at 723 S. Ocean Front Walk

In January 2021, 116 firefighters worked for two hours to put out a fire that spread from a homeless tent on Venice Beach to a vacant two-story building at 723 S. Ocean Front Walk

The fire started at an encampment on the south side of the 6,952 sq ft building

The fire started at an encampment on the south side of the 6,952 sq ft building

About 116 had been matched with permanent housing resources, according to St. Joseph Center.

But Ryavec says about 70 people are still camping there overnight.

Soon after the clean-up, residents complained that the city’s efforts were ‘all for show.’

In July, a concerned resident who asked not to be identified captured a couple on video taking up camp near the popular boardwalk. 

‘You can clearly see a man and a woman unloading their car at about 7pm,’ they said. 

‘The car had an Arkansas license plate, and they just went about their business, lugging their belongings and setting up a tent on the sand like it was no big deal.’

Patrick Liberty, who has had a shop on the boardwalk for 25 years, told DailyMail.com last July that his business has taken a huge beating with homeless tents set up directly across from his store. 

‘The reality on the ground here is undeniable, it’s a disaster. It’s been very debilitating for my business, this is the last thing you want in front of a shop. Tourists and locals alike are afraid to walk down the boardwalk, let alone come into my store,’ Liberty said. 

On July 14, a concerned resident who wished to remain anonymous captured a couple on video unpacking their car to take up camp near the popular boardwalk

On July 14, a concerned resident who wished to remain anonymous captured a couple on video unpacking their car to take up camp near the popular boardwalk

Bystanders captured video of an angry and violent man on the boardwalk. 'Just this morning, I saw a man screaming at the top of his lungs, walking down the boardwalk with torn up clothes and shouting out nonsense. Try putting him in a home. It's simply not the solution,' said Patrick Liberty, who has had a shop on the boardwalk for 25 years

Bystanders captured video of an angry and violent man on the boardwalk. 'Just this morning, I saw a man screaming at the top of his lungs, walking down the boardwalk with torn up clothes and shouting out nonsense. Try putting him in a home. It's simply not the solution,' said Patrick Liberty, who has had a shop on the boardwalk for 25 years

Bystanders captured video of an angry and violent man on the boardwalk holding what appears to be a rod. ‘Just this morning, I saw a man screaming at the top of his lungs, walking down the boardwalk with torn up clothes and shouting out nonsense. Try putting him in a home. It’s simply not the solution,’ said shopowner Patrick Liberty told DailyMail.com inJuly

‘Over the years, I’ve seen it all and can confidently say this is not a mere housing problem,’ he explained.

‘The people camped out front my store are not looking for housing, they are looking for drugs and have made this place their permanent home. They sit out on lounge chairs during the day and ask people for a dollar so they can buy crack. 

‘These people are in need of help, help to overcome their addictions and help with learning basic life skills. You can’t just put street people in a home and think that’s it, that’s the answer. For some people yes, but for the people who willingly come here to live on the beach, no.

Furious residents and shop owners told DailyMail.com that July's sweep was 'all for show'

Furious residents and shop owners told DailyMail.com that July’s sweep was ‘all for show’

Less than a week after the clean-up efforts, the homeless were back setting up their tents and swarming the tourist-filled boardwalk

Less than a week after the clean-up efforts, the homeless were back setting up their tents and swarming the tourist-filled boardwalk

‘Just this morning, I saw a man screaming at the top of his lungs, walking down the boardwalk with torn up clothes and shouting out nonsense. Try putting him in a home. It’s simply not the solution,’ Liberty said.

Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin, who has come under fire for what many call a lack of leadership and a lack of concern for the residents of Venice, has a completely different take on the situation.

On July 12, Bonin tweeted, ‘More than half of the unhoused population on Venice Beach’s Ocean Front Walk-110 people-are sleeping indoors & are on a path to permanent housing as a result of the Encampments to Homes program.’

Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin has come under fire for what many call a lack of leadership and a lack of concern for the residents of Venice. He tweeted about the clean-up efforts on July 12

Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin has come under fire for what many call a lack of leadership and a lack of concern for the residents of Venice. He tweeted about the clean-up efforts on July 12

Venice native Andrew Sullivan says it’s a bit early for Bonin to be patting himself on the back and describes the recent clean-up as nothing more than ‘the Mike Bonin Boardwalk Shuffle’ as homeless encampments move further north and the sand resembles Burning Man.

‘Venice Beach is in a state of emergency on all levels, and what we need right now is FEMA,’ Sullivan told DailyMail.com.

‘If you were to dare go to the boardwalk tonight, you would not see these so-called mental health workers from St. Joseph’s Center walking around, helping people. Residents only see this happen when they call the media to be here or an activist’s livestream camera is on. It’s a collection of the biggest non-profit grifters ever assembled in one city.

‘It’s all about making those in charge look like they are actually doing something, when those of us who live here see first hand the horrors of mismanagement. If our leaders wanted to fix this, they’ve had $800million plus in the bank since 2017 to do so and they were just given another $5million,’ he added. 

‘The streets indicate otherwise and the residents are organizing recalls to end the madness from Bonin to California Governor Gavin Newsom,’ said Sullivan.

Homelessness has DOUBLED in LA in past five years as the city struggles to combat the humanitarian crisis 

Los Angeles has been ravaged by its homeless crisis for the last decade, with the number of homeless people rising steadily from around 40,000 in 2011. 

In the last year, homelessness increased by 12.7 per cent in LA County because there aren’t enough homes people can afford, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.

More than 63,000 people are homeless in LA County, the authority reports. 

The issue is most visible in downtown LA, where hundreds of people live in makeshift shanties that line entire blocks in the notorious neighborhood known as Skid Row.

Tents regularly pop up on the pavement outside City Hall and encampments are increasingly found in suburban areas under freeway overpasses. 

In 2015, City Council members and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that they would declare an emergency locally.

However the proposal was abandoned because the mayor wanted a statewide declaration from then California Governor Jerry Brown, who refused the request.

Four years ago, LA voters then approved a tax hike and $1.2 billion housing bond to channel investments into helping solve the homeless crisis.

That bond money has so far been used to build more than half of the 10,000 new housing units planned countywide over 10 years – but housing is still in short supply.

In 2018, LA declared a shelter crisis, which reduced construction hurdles around developing emergency beds on public land.

Then in 2019, County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and City Councilman Joe Buscaino put forward a proposal calling on Governor Gavin Newsom to declare a state of emergency over the crisis – a call that never materialized.  



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