Circling the News joined Venice Stakeholders Association leader Mark Ryavec at 6 a.m. on August 21 for a walk at Venice Beach, from north Venice Avenue to Rose Avenue. He weekly walks the route to track the homeless population. That evening had been the last night for enforcement of no camping between 2 and 5 a.m.
“There were 56 campers, most concentrated north of Dudley around the Rose Avenue parking lot,” Ryavec said. “There were four or five tents, a few far out on the sand, and a couple on the knoll NW of the parking lot by the restrooms.”
A Chrysalis worker was power washing handball courts 1, 2 and 4. He skipped court 3 because a homeless guy was sleeping there.
We asked the worker if he would clean it and he said, “No, I’m not going to wake him up.” The worker said that the courts, which are now getting a lot of use by the public, had been cleaned the day before and it was his job to make sure that any urine or other deposits were cleaned. (Before the Venice cleanup started, homeless had taken over each court, making them inaccessible to the public.)
Rec and Parks employees were setting up tents near the handball courts. It was the inaugural Venice Beach Summer Sports Day, sponsored by Councilman Mike Bonin, and free clinics and sports activities were offered.
The event advertised that “The newly cleaned and upgraded Venice Beach Recreation Center will be packed with a full day of free sporting activities, games, contests, clinics, demos and more including: Skateboarding, Roller Skating, Handball, Soccer, Basketball, Calisthenics, Paddle Tennis, PickleBall, Kids Arts and Crafts, Boardwalk Fun Run, Beach Volleyball, Sound Bath, Yoga, Fitness Classes, Hula Hooping, Food Trucks, Resource Fair, A Venice Paparazzi Photo Booth, and more!”
Further down the boardwalk, transients were starting to line up in the Rose parking lot. Ryavec said that a group brings food to that location.
The Venice resident has been counting the homeless on a regular basis. Bonin announced in his August 19 newsletter that the homeless at Venice Beach had all been offered services/housed, but Ryavec said during our walk that there had been a 20-percent increase in campers since last weekend.
He told CTN, “LAPD/Sanitation/Rec & Parks teams that have kept encampments from ballooning back up end tonight (Saturday), with the Mayor’s Office and Councilman Bonin unwilling to allocate the additional funds needed to keep the Department of Sanitation staff engaged.
“Sanitation’s participation is critical to the effectiveness of the nighttime enforcement effort because only Sanitation is permitted to remove and store tents, furniture, bedrolls and tarps from the beach and Boardwalk under city law,” Ryavec said.
On August 5, the Board of Recreation and Park Commissioners approved $270,000 to pay Los Angeles Sanitation for additional refuse collections for 2021-22. “This transfer of appropriations will allow LASAN to provide various additional refuse collections services for Venice Beach and other high-need RAP sites without delay,” the commissioners were told.
Ryavec has been told by LAPD Pacific Area Commanding Officer Steven Embrich that there is no money for nighttime enforcement, and Ryavec predicts encampments will start to grow again.
He also thinks the message needs to get out to the rest of the country that people can’t just move here to camp — that it is illegal to camp on the beaches.
(Editor’s note: There was an overdose at the Rose Avenue and Ocean Front bathroom around 8 a.m. Saturday morning. We had walked past the place about an hour earlier. Around 3 p.m. on August 21, two teens from a youth group that was visiting the boardwalk were taken to an area hospital by LAFD paramedics, after they became suddenly ill following the use of a still undetermined illicit substance. One of the teens has now died from a suspected drug overdose on the boardwalk. According to the Westside Current, the kids thought they were buying Percocet. The matter has been turned over to LAPD homicide.)