What’s the Truth? A CTN Reader Seeks Clarification about Councilman Bonin’s Homeless Plan in Venice

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Homeless encampments on Venice Beach have made it unsafe for residents and tourists. L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva stepped in, but now Councilman Mike Bonin has said he will fix the problem.

One resident wrote to Circling the News this morning and commented, “It is very confusing to read these emails from Bonin, which claim that he is getting the job done and that the Sheriff is criminalizing homelessness. From the news we have read, that is not what the Sheriff was doing. What gives?”

The resident referred to Councilman Mike Bonin’s email to his listserv today, stating that starting next week, he would launch a program to humanely address the homelessness crises at Venice Beach.

He wrote that next Monday, teams led by the St. Joseph Center will begin offering housing, shelter and services to everyone currently living in encampments along Ocean Front Walk.

“The six-week initiative, a collaboration between neighbors, government agencies and nonprofits, will offer nearly 200 people a pathway to permanent housing and appropriate services to help them succeed,” Bonin vowed.

He emphasized that this program would not be led by law enforcement, referring to L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who said he’d like the Venice boardwalk to be cleared by July 4.

Chief Michael Moore stated in an L.A.Times story (“Sheriff Villanueva Deploys Deputies to Venice Encampments. But Is He Overstepping His Authority?”) that LAPD officers would not assist sheriff’s deputies in cleaning encampments unless the City Council or Mayor Eric Garcetti directed him to do so.

Circling the News has taken several tours of the Venice area along the Boardwalk, on Sunset, near the Westminster Elementary School, and the area surrounding Gold’s Gym, and has done repeated stories about the tragedy of not helping the homeless in Venice; about the lack of rules regarding street camping; and the failure of bridge housing at this location.

The area had become lawless with people being attacked, and buildings burned, which killed a doctor’s pet dog.

This encampment is a block from bridge housing in Venice (white building in the background).

In our June 15 bridge housing article (“CTN Explores Bridge Housing Efforts in Venice and San Pedro”), we spoke with Heidi Roberts, who through Haaven, has used her and her husband’s money to set up housing for the homeless.

Today, she was interviewed by ABC. “I told reporters that Bonin is being shamed into taking action, but he’s still playing politics with people’s lives,” she said. “He should be thankful that the Sheriff is dedicating resources and working to end the humanitarian crisis and he should be offering to work with his team.”

Roberts, who lives in the midst of the chaos, said that she is passionate about the suffering in the streets. “I pointed out that Bonin has done NOTHING for seven years but create a containment zone deep in the heart of a residential community. It’s an experiment gone very, very bad.”

Early this morning, somebody scaled the 10’ fence that is around Roberts’ home and tried to jimmy the lock on the front door. She gave the film of the break-in to ABC and said, “They filmed LAPD arriving to take our report.”

Mark Ryavec, a Venice resident who ran against Bonin in the last election, sent the following note to the L.A.Times: “Mr. Bonin’s proposals are tragically many years late — after years of assaults, break-ins, thefts, business losses, murders and fires — and ultimately worthless unless he allows the LAPD and Rec. and Parks to strictly enforce the city’s law against camping and tents after the homeless are placed in shelter.”

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5 Responses to What’s the Truth? A CTN Reader Seeks Clarification about Councilman Bonin’s Homeless Plan in Venice

  1. John says:

    Mr. Bonin has a long record of not being truthful with our community. He has had years to deal with the homeless problem. The problem has gotten worse each year he has been in office. Only now, when he is under the pressure of recall, does he suggest a plan. We need new representation on the City Council.

  2. Nancy Forman says:

    Mike Bonin has still not presented a long term plan for this situation. It is completely ridiculous to shelter homeless temporarily (?) on our beaches and in our parking lots for many reasons. He has no long term plan. In the meantime, we keep going around in circles doing feasibility studies and debating as things continue to deteriorate.
    The homeless population has affected all of us – our safety (fires, violence, drugs), our health, our lifestyle. Tourism will take a dive, residents are leaving the state. The vast majority of the homeless people on the beaches and in parking lots are not the “down on their luck” ones. Many, many are drug addicted and/or mentally ill and need something much more complex than a place to stay.
    I strongly suggest that Michael Bonin’s interests lay with how he can best work something out which will profit him. If he was truly interested in making a positive change, he would step down and support someone else who has a well thought out plan and can make a difference.

  3. Brent Snyder says:

    I appreciate you selected reprint from the LA Times story and repeating reporting from ABC7 News. I look forward to your actual interview with Council Member Bonin on the issue. Some original reporting would be helpful.

  4. Sue says:

    Brent,

    I totally agree–maybe you could help facilitate? I have reached out repeatedly to David Graham-Caso, Bonin’s communication director about different subjects, asking for comments, but in the past year, I think I’ve received one response.

    Sue

  5. Murray Levy says:

    Bonin just doesn’t get it! He says that he doesn’t want to “criminalize” homelessness. Being homeless is not a criminal act, but camping on a public sidewalk or beach is, selling drugs is, parking a vehicle for more than 72 hours is. Certainly we should “offer” to help those in need, but those who refuse the “offer” should be forced off the streets and public parks. Everyone should obey the law. Those that don’t should face consequences. Until we insist that laws be enforced encampments like those in Venice will persist and get worse.

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