(Several comments were made via email and text to Circling the News and two letters were sent to Councilman Mike Bonin, with a copy to CTN, regarding his March 31 motion with Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas to establish homeless camps along the beach and in several City parks.)
Reader One: I just read your article on Bonin’s homeless proposal to set up camps on Will Rogers parking lot. I have never heard of a more obscene idea.
Reader Two: The “shaming” of people who do not welcome tent encampments—you are so on target. Mike Bonin has brought Venice Beach to its knees and people are ready to explode.
Reader Three: Again…your thorough reporting on housing the homeless on the beach is unprecedented…Thank you for showing how clearly our councilman is harming, not helping the situation…and making life worse on the westside for ALL of us.
Reader Four: Why replicate the Venice disaster in 90272?
MOVING HOMELESS TO BEACHES WON’T SOLVE PROBLEM
To: Councilman Mike Bonin
I was a Deputy L.A. City Attorney, criminal division, for 27 years. I then volunteered as a Detective Specialist with L.A.P.D. for 15 years. I also have been a Scoutmaster in the Palisades for 60 years.
Our Scouts started the practice of cleaning the beaches when the County couldn’t or wouldn’t. Only cigarette butts in those days.
We then undertook to clean the [lower] Temescal picnic areas for six years because the City couldn’t or wouldn’t. Feces, drug paraphernalia, violent homeless drunks finally made us stop.
Then under Dave Card’s direction (Rotary member and current Pacific Palisades Community Council president), we undertook beautification projects, only to have drunks destroy the area.
Two-thirds of the people you want to move onto the beach are either mentally handicapped, often violent, or addicted to drugs or alcohol or both.
Don’t tell me I don’t know what I am talking about. I have seen it, experienced it, and often cleaned up afterwards.
With summer coming on, large groups of our children will be in various beach classes, and on weekends many thousands of the inner-city people come to the beach to get out of the stink of your inner-city.
You need to solve your problems where they begin, not by trashing our beaches.
John Wilson – Palisades Rotary past President
P.S. Have you asked the Coastal Commission for permission?
CANNOT SUPPORT MOTION TO MOVE HOMELESS TO BEACHES:
Dear Councilman Bonin,
We have been acquainted for many years. We first met during Bill Rosendahl’s last term in office when I was a member of the PPCC. Since that time, I have supported you as the CD-Il Councilmember. I have supported you because I found you to have your heart in the right place (you want to help people), you were a good listener to opposing viewpoints, you made decisions based upon facts, you are honest, and take tough issues head on. When you make a mistake, you admit it and move on. You are an activist leader and I appreciate these leadership attributes in a public servant.
As you probably surmise there is a BIG BUT coming but let me provide a bit more context first.The homeless situation in Los Angeles is a huge problem and as large as it is, its dimensions and failure to be remedied can be squarely placed at the foot of our political leaders.Your well-intended attempts to solve the problem with temporary and short-term housing in Venice have been a failure. The City’s attempts to deal with the homeless situation in Echo Park have been a dismal failure. Can you honestly say that the results of Proposition HHH have been a success? I think not.
We have literally thrown huge sums of money and hours of human effort at the problem but there has not been the political will necessary to comprehensively harness the intellectual, social service, medical, business and planning capital necessary to really solve the problem. This brings me to your Motion currently before the City Council that includes, among other things, a proposal to house the homeless at Will Rogers Beach.
Now for the BIG BUT… I find your motion to be counter-productive, and likely to constitute the spreading of a virus at time when what is needed is better, more comprehensive planning that might actually help to reduce the problem. Your band-aid approach is only likely to exacerbate the situation. Maybe we should apply the lessons learned from trying to contain the spread of the Corona Virus 19 to the homeless situation.
- There is no geographic cure. Moving the homeless problem to Will Rogers Beach, or any other beach area, is to contaminate the adjacent areas and will not serve to bring about a solution to the problem. I fear that your desire to move homeless people to Will Rogers Beach is based upon some misapprehension that the better-off areas of CD-Il should bear a more direct burden of the problem and maybe the residents in these areas will then do more to fight for a better solution. I think you are wrong. I think that you will lose the votes and respect of the residents of these areas.
- Will Rogers Beach is frequently crowded to capacity during the summers and holidays. People and families come to the beach from all over Los Angeles to enjoy the natural beauty and tranquility offered by the ocean. They have worked hard to earn a few hours of relaxation at the beach with their families and should not have to have greater difficulty finding parking (which is already tough and expensive) and should be free from the inevitable increase in assaults, car break-ins, panhandlers, and increase in a trashed environment that will be the inevitable results of housing the homeless at the beach.
- Furthermore, not only will visitors to the beach suffer, but local businesses will also likely be negatively impacted by easy access to them from the homeless encamped at the beach. I suspect that hundreds of homeless people living so close to the restaurants, coffee shops, and other businesses, will make it less likely that locals, as well as visitors to the beach, will frequent these businesses if they see homeless people mingling and trash accumulating.
- If you don’t believe me, take a walk around Venice these days. Has the homeless situation been alleviated? Is it a friendly, safe environment for families with small children? One of the reasons why many former residents of the Venice area have moved to the Palisades recently is because Venice is no longer viewed as safe or clean for families with young children. It is no longer safe because of the large and unregulated homeless population. I walked with my wife in Venice a couple of weeks ago and was uncomfortable at times because of the large numbers of homeless people who were living on the streets, in door fronts, and lounging on the sidewalks, amid stored piles of personal possessions and accumulated trash.
- Residents of the Pacific Palisades have sponsored and supported private groups such as PPHTF with money and volunteer support in order to provide some local assistance. Much more needs to be done to provide appropriate, and relevant services, but not by making the Palisades a more attractive nuisance for the homeless.
- Specific to our location, residents of the Palisades live in constant fear of the destructive widespread damage that fires can cause. As such, we don’t want people who are mentally incompetent, substance abusers, and those who are reckless enough not to care about damaging the environment in which they live. We don’t want hundreds of off-center people roaming the canyons and cliffs and starting campfires. One of the major practical functions of the PPHTF has been to alert the LAPD as to the locations of homeless encampments, on the cliffs and in the canyons, which are ever present potential fire hazards. We don’t need more of this problem and its potential, catastrophic effect.
If moving the homeless to the beach were a realistic and holistic solution to the problem, my view would be different. It is not. Your motion is an attempt to shotgun pieces of only part of a solution without having your pieces fall within a comprehensive, overall programmatic framework designed to offer housing, medical treatment, and social services.
Homelessness is not simply comprised of people who are down on their luck and needing a temporary helping hand. The category of homeless includes large numbers of drug abusers and mentally ill who need more than a place at the beach. The result is that you are simply expanding the problem to other areas of CD-11, and for what purpose? Will such a movement really solve problems or simply create new and more dangerous ones, without solving the underlying issues.
In my view, the nature of the disease requires more than CD-Il can provide. The City has raised and spent millions and the problem has only gotten worse. It won’t get better by moving the homeless and their associated problems to the beaches, where some of them will find easier pickings to sustain their life-style. The problems associated with the homeless will increase and not decrease.
Let me raise one last issue. I have lived in CD-Il for more than 40 years. I don’t want to see change that is not progressive. I don’t want my home and beautiful area spoiled by people who can’t live under the same set of rules or who can’t afford to live here on their own. I don’t think this is unAmerican. I am not saying that these people should not be helped and that I would not contribute to their help, but that is not the same thing as saying that I want them camped out on my block. I have paid dearly for the right to live where I choose and unless you can tell me why my lifestyle should be diminished with no realistic chance of fundamentally making a difference, then I don’t see why your motion makes any sense.
Mike, I believe in removing barriers so that people can achieve the best versions of themselves. I think we should work to raise all of our standards and expectations for a better future for all of us. I am not for lowering the lifestyles of the majority of us who live in CD-11 in order to reduce the gap between us by lowering our standard of living. Let’s try to raise the level of the water so that all of our boats float higher.
If you want an alternate suggestion, away from a large residential neighborhood, how about the area where the forum is located? It is large, already fenced-in, and put to good use for administering Covid vaccinations. Build your small houses here. Try rehabilitation here. I see nothing incompatible or wrong in offering help that is both substantive and not unnecessarily injurious to those of us who are helping.
Mike, while I have supported you in the past, I cannot support you on this motion. I see your motion as a further attempt by you to try and solve a problem that is so far beyond the capabilities of one council district. It will result in causing more destruction than any good it can ever accomplish. It is also conceivable that with one violent act or a large fire in the Palisades, that your efforts to assist the homeless will be substantially, and perhaps permanently, setback.
In conclusion, I think the admonition of the first principle of a medical professional is apt here: the first duty should be to do no harm. I respectfully ask you to reconsider your motion. It is a mistake, a well-intended mistake, but nevertheless, a mistake that is likely to cause more problems than it will solve.
To be clear, I am writing this letter as a private citizen and not for, or on behalf of, any organization or political interest. These are my views, but I suggest to you that many other residents of CD-11 share them.
Steven R. Boyers