VIEWPOINT: Councilman Mike Bonin’s Homeless Housing Plan Denies Children Opportunities

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Homeless tents surround the Westchester Park swimming pool.

Councilman Mike Bonin, in his effort to aid the homeless including the mentally ill and those with substance abuse problems, is overlooking L.A.’s most vulnerable: the children.

Will Rogers State Beach, particularly the area that Bonin has suggested being turned into a tiny home encampment, has been a place for generations of children to participate in Junior Lifeguard Camp.

The L.A. County program, which by summer camp standards is relatively inexpensive and teaches ocean safety, while promoting a healthy life, has been at that location for close to 50 years. A March Kids Guide Magazine article notes, “Year after year, this popular program teaches valuable life lessons and skills to thousands of Southern California kids and teens. There’s almost too many benefits to count.”

One of the products of the Will Rogers Junior Lifeguard camp is swimmer Jordan Wilimovsky, who this summer will compete in the Tokyo Olympics in the 10K open water marathon.

Imagine if he and thousands of children were denied the opportunity on this beach? This site is perfect for the program and why Mr. Bonin wants to take it away from the children is inexplicable.

On the other side of the Lifeguard headquarters, another beach camp, Fitness by the Sea, has been at its site for 22 years, providing a camp for kids ages 5 to 14.

A bit further down, Sandy Days is running its popular summer camp from June 14 through August 27.

The Will Rogers location that Bonin is proposing to take away from the children is also used by the Palisades High surf team  from August through May.

On the weekends, in addition to children playing in volleyball leagues, families from all over Los Angeles bring their children to Will Rogers to play in the ocean.

Many families are like mine when I was growing up. We were poor. During the summer, seven of us lived in a four-room apartment, and public parks and lakes became our yard.

Who would willingly put children at the bottom of their priorities? Councilman Mike Bonin’s spokesperson David Graham-Caso was asked that question on June 25, and if CTN receives an answer, we’ll post it.

In addition to placing homeless encampments at Will Rogers and Dockweiler beaches, Bonin also wants to take play space from kids by housing the homeless in City parks.

A Westchester mom told CTN that because homeless encampments have been allowed at the Westchester Recreation Center, some kids’ sports leagues have been cancelled there; attendance for tennis camps and the recreation center activities is down more than 50 percent; the senior center is now closed; children have been accosted in the park bathroom; and fires have been set.

Palisades resident Joe Halper, an L.A. Recreation and Park Board Commissioner, spoke at the RAP meeting on June 17: “As the Board along with staff are the stewards of the Parks, I believe it is important to achieve a degree of equity for the general community by addressing the homeless encampments that have affected the public enjoyment of LA City parks.

“The parks have been the subject of unauthorized homeless encampments that have been left in place and allowed to grow over the Covid pandemic,” Halper continued. “This is the result of the L.A. County Health Department directive to allow homeless encampments to remain in place for Covid-related health considerations. The directive is based on the advisement of the CDC.

“With the lifting of the Covid restrictions I would appreciate a report projecting the reinstatement of civil authority by enforcement of the city ordinances and Recreation and Parks regulations at the RAP facilities. . .The return of the RAP facilities at the earliest time to their Charter mission is essential to the health and enjoyment of the public,” Halper said.

Halper gets how important parks, playgrounds and beaches are for children. Why doesn’t Bonin?

Westchester Park parents have complained it is not safe for children to play or use the restrooms because of  homeless encampments.

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2 Responses to VIEWPOINT: Councilman Mike Bonin’s Homeless Housing Plan Denies Children Opportunities

  1. ANDY COHEN says:

    Fitness by the sea has moved to smb, just a little north of the Jon club

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Children count. Their young childhood experiences count, their physical activity counts, their safety counts. Also not having them close to drug dealers, and persons with extreme psychological disorders is not safe. ALSO, you can’t “unsee” these things…it’s not fair to traumatize children for a small amount group of people that have chosen this lifestyle. The city needs to stand up for children and their rights too!

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