The L.A. City Council voted today to approve a motion by Councilmen Mike Bonin and Mark Ridley-Thomas (Motion 21-0350) to study the feasibility of using Will Rogers State Beach, Dockweiler Beach, LAX land and two city parks, Mar Vista and Westchester, as sites to house the homeless.
Initially, there was to be no public comment at the hearing (via Zoom), but an overwhelming number of residents contacted City Council President Nury Martinez requesting the opportunity to speak.
Martinez relented, and after nearly two hours of public comment (most of it fiercely opposed to the motion), only Councilman Joe Buscaino voted against the study.
Councilman Mitch O’Farrell pointed out to Councilmembers that Los Angeles is “park poor” and ranks 74th out of 100 large cities in terms of park space. That study found there were 6.8 acres of parkland for 1,000 residents in cities where there were more parks; in Los Angeles, it is only one acre per 1,000 people.
Many people in Los Angeles can “only access these sites [beaches] by car,” O’Farrell said, noting that for many poor families the beaches and parks are a vital respite. “Shared public spaces are in short supply and sacred.”
He continued, “We need to be mindful of decisions even for temporary solutions.” The proposal states that this would be a temporary solution but doesn’t list a timeline or subsequent steps that would revert beaches and parks to the public.
Before voting, O’Farrell asked for clarification that this motion was strictly about the feasibility study and not in favor of the idea. He was assured that this was correct.
The feasibility study will be paid for by taxpayers.
Buscaino said, “I’ll save time — these sites are not feasible.”
He spoke about three generations of a family living in an apartment in his district and “it’s not fair to deprive these people of parks and beaches. Public spaces belong to all of us.”
Bonin defended his proposal by saying “I am determined that my part of town should do its part [in dealing with the homeless].”
Martinez said that her office had received 550 calls and 100 voicemails about the subject. “I understand the public’s frustration with this issue. We’ve taxed them, but we haven’t lived up to our end of the bargain. We need to clean and manage our public streets.”
Twenty-year Playa Del Rey resident Lucy Han spoke. “This motion will decrease access to Dockweiler Beach and seems to target and discriminate against low-income people of color. Many families who frequent Dockweiler Beach come from the southern LA region and oftentimes are large low-income communities made up of persons of color. Council Districts 8, 9 & 15 are most affected. Residents drive on the 105 Freeway to their nearest beach which is Dockweiler. This proposal would reduce accessibility to Dockweiler Beach by eliminating parking spots, affecting literally thousands of people, daily.”
Suddenly her call was dropped. CTN later contacted Han, who said, “They cut me off. I called back and was waiting to speak, and they closed public comment.”
CTN asked for the rest of her comment, which she supplied.
“In 2017, Councilman Bonin’s Road Diet reduced accessibility to Dockweiler Beach by eliminating 400 parking spaces on Vista Del Mar. Please do not allow his efforts to again prevent beach access to this marginalized segment of our community. Dockweiler Lot #3 is the one targeted and it has 418 spots.
“Bonin admitted that he is not in a position to increase enforcement or increase services,” Han said. “He says that’s LAPD’s and County’s jurisdiction.
“Residents are livid about Bonin’s Bridge Housing in Venice. Bonin promised LAPD would secure a safe zone around the shelter,” Han said. “There is no LAPD as promised. Bridge Housing has attracted encampments to the shelter. The numbers have increased. Crime has skyrocketed.
“Bonin promised to provide significant sanitation services to clean up. Instead, Bonin allowed the homeless to refuse City clean ups. Bridge residents do not abide by the rules. They are frequently using drugs in the communal spaces. When residents get in fights, LAPD is not called. The residents are kicked out so that no crime is reported against the shelter, thus improving the success metrics of Bridges.
“How can we trust Bonin if he won’t make good on his promises to Venice? Why would we allow him to move his homeless shelters into our community? There are many underutilized City properties that should be considered, NOT our parks and beaches.
“Over 35,000 people have signed our petitions against this motion. Over 1,000 pages of letters are recorded in the Council File. Six Neighborhood Councils & two Community Councils oppose the motion.
“We ALL want to help the unhoused, but we need a proven, well-thought out and holistic solution,” Han concluded.
Palisades residents also chimed in. “Nothing could be more WRONG than creating a homeless encampment — tiny homes or otherwise — on a parking lot at Will Rogers State Beach and other beachside or park locations,” said one. “Doing so not only removes parking space for visitors from all over. What does it do to the overall recreation area that is used by so many who want and need to escape the heat, density and worries of our more urban neighborhoods?”
Another resident said, “Please do not even consider allowing tiny homes or other living spaces to be placed on a beach parking lot, such as our treasured Will Rogers State Beach. This beach and the parking lots that serve the beach are for recreation. (By the way, what would these people do during the day? Will they leave the ‘compound’ and walk just a few blocks to hang around Canyon Elementary School?)”
Yet another resident sent a video that was recorded today. “Here is a good reason why homeless people should not be living near PCH . . .911 was called on this mentally ill man. He crossed in traffic multiple times and almost was hit. At the meeting held by the Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness, Dr. Jonathan Sherin, L.A. County Director of Mental Health, said this is one of the top reasons homeless are dying.”
Jessica Rogers, president of the Pacific Palisades Residents Association also spoke at the meeting. “We need to build shelters for the mentally ill. Focus on the real issue please.”
Several advocates for the homeless supported Bonin’s motion and went after residents on the Westside, calling them “these people … they want to keep their million-dollar mansions free of poor people.”
Stacy Shure (Mar Vista Neighborhood Council Zone 1 Director and Planning and Land Use Chair) said, “We need long-term housing; we do not need to move the homeless around like Legos on a board.
“Mar Vista has little open space. The need has never been greater for open spaces, especially for the impoverished who do not have access to open space.
“Stop creating temporary solutions. Stop trying to divide us.”