The Los Angeles Times editorial on Sunday (“Shelter Next to the Beach?”) stated that Councilman Mike Bonin’s idea of turning the Will Rogers Beach parking lot into a village for the homeless should be considered.
Since many Circling the News readers don’t subscribe to the newspaper, I’m providing a summary of the editorial and a copy of the letter that the Pacific Palisades Community Council sent in response.
Here are excerpts from the Times editorial:
Councilman Bonin wants creative solutions to keep homeless people safe. They’re worth studying.
Recently, Councilman Mike Bonin proposed to study the feasibility of several locations for tiny homes or safe camping (and, in one case, safe parking) for homeless people. Bonin wants to consider county-owned parking lots at two beaches in his Westside district — Will Rogers State Beach and Dockweiler Beach — and another at a boat- launch ramp in nearby Marina Del Rey.
. . .And he wants to consider using portions of Westchester and Mar Vista parks where homeless people are currently camped.
But the mere idea of evaluating these sites has drawn vocal opposition from several Westside neighborhood and community councils, as well as an online petition signed by more than 20,000 critics.
Another online petition, signed by more than 12,000 people, urges that Bonin be recalled. The executive committee of the Pacific Palisades Community Council, which represents the area by Will Rogers State Beach, wrote in a letter to city and county officials, “We reject in the strongest possible terms the proposition that an ‘immediate emergency’ exists.”
Well, homelessness is an immediate emergency. Isn’t that what most city residents (except the ones in the Palisades, apparently) keep saying to anyone who will listen? And Bonin is an example of a council member acting on that.
The Times then calls Bonin “enterprising and, frankly, brave in the face of ferocious community opposition.”
. . . This proposal is not about allowing tents on beaches. The study would explore the feasibility of putting a sanctioned campsite or a tiny-home village in a beach parking lot, where there would be security, restrooms, food and water, and service providers to help people get to the next level of housing.
It’s possible that putting camps even in parking lots will pose too many problems. Will it interfere with beachgoers trying to park? Will the Coastal Commission approve? Those are legitimate questions. So let a study examine all that.
. . . “The rest of the council should heed his words and approve Bonin’s proposal when it comes up for a vote. . . .
The editorial board then lectured homeowners about how this is “the moral crisis of our time in our city.” It didn’t acknowledge that Pacific Palisades has been successfully dealing with the homeless since 2016, when the nonprofit Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness was formed.
Social workers were hired through private funding and began working with the LAPD and community volunteers to help dozens of homeless individuals make the decision to accept services and move away from their sidewalk and hillside encampments.
Unlike residents in all other parts of the city, Pacific Pacific homeowners and organizations devised a creative and humane approach to the homeless crisis.
The editorial concluded “…stop resisting them moving into a safe space near you or your favorite haunts.”
Instead of lecturing residents of Los Angeles about how we are not compassionate, why not start an investigation and account for all the money that the City has spent on homelessness. Where has it gone? What has been accomplished?
Find out why the mentally ill are allowed to roam on streets like feral cats: How can they be helped? Ask why prisoners are released with no place to go. Ask why drug addicts are allowed to languish on the streets.
Stop lecturing good people who are already paying taxes through Measure H and Prop. HHH and find out why the homeless aren’t being helped.
According to an October 2019 report by L.A. Controller Ron Galperin, “Almost three years after voters approved Prop HHH, only 19 projects are under construction and once completed they will provide 1,260 total units, 892 of those are supportive housing units.
“The median cost of building these units ($531,373) approaches – and in many cases, exceeds – the median sale price of a condominium in the City of Los Angeles ($546,000) and a single-family home in Los Angeles County ($627,690).”
Fortunately, Galperin is scheduled to appear at this Thursday’s Community Council meeting via Zoom. It will be interesting to hear what he has to say about the homeless crisis, and how he responds to some tough questioning by board members and residents.