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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

“Venice Kids Count” Filed Suit Against the City of Los Angeles Today

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Photo of Westminster Senior Center taken minutes after hearing of the suit Venice Kids Count vs. City of Los Angeles.

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Shows proximity of the school across the street from the center.

“Venice Kids Count,” a broad coalition of neighbors, parents, and residents in Venice, filed suit against the City of Los Angeles today to stop the city from illegally converting the Westminster Senior Center into a storage and services hub for the homeless.

The center is in a public park that is bordered by Westminster Elementary School, where more than 400 children attend school, and is just one block from a pre-school. It is also home to the Westminster Dog Park, which has been a popular gathering place for local families for decades. The city is planning to open the storage facility in the senior center on November 1.

A Court Order, issued in 1950 by the Superior Court of California, expressly prohibits this kind of conversion from a public park to a storage and services hub for the homeless. The Court Order states that the park should be used for “public playground and recreation purposes” only.

The conversion is part of a broader plan proposed by Councilperson Mike Bonin (CD-11) to install an extensive network of resources for the homeless in Venice over the next several months, including new housing projects on Venice Boulevard and Thatcher Avenue, 24-hour restroom and shower facilities on the Venice Boardwalk, designated overnight parking with restroom access, and mobile shower facilities.

The Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) voted against repurposing the senior center and proposed a mobile storage and outreach solution modeled on successful programs in other cities to address the needs of the homeless and community concerns regarding school safety and the preservation of recreational resources.

“The VNC Homeless Committee created and vetted an innovative mobile storage program that brings the storage solution – complete with street outreach teams – directly to the homeless, when and where they need it,” said Heidi Roberts. “It’s a great program that can be scaled to address the needs of the city’s homeless and expanded beyond Venice in a cost-effective and efficient way. It’s a win-win.”

However, Bonin declined to delay conversion of the senior center to consider the VNC’s proposal.

“While we understand the City of Los Angeles needs to do something to help the homeless, importing hundreds of homeless to this community, right next to a school where hundreds of children spend every day is a careless choice,” said Katrina Glusac, a parent of a Westminster Elementary student and member of ‘Venice Kids Count’. “Especially since there are options that would provide the services without sacrificing the safety of our kids.”

Go to http://www.venicekidscount.org/ for contact information, facts, background, and opportunity to donate.

Comments (23)

  1. Anonymous

    The addicts, meth heads, heroin junkies of Venice have ALREADY had their chance to fly straight, they are NOT kids. BUT the children of Venice deserve better. They should not have to see junkies and degenerate transients everyday on their way to school. It’s the very definition of a negative cycle of learning. Bonin should be ASHAMED OF HIMSELF for selling out our children so the can curry political favor with Garretti and his bid to run for Mayor.

  2. Anonymous

    Not interested in any power or oppression. Don’t use labels and scapegoating for the issue at hand. It is about kids. Children. Who are young and innocent and deserve to be put first. Before you. Before me. Before anything. It is simply about Just safety for Venice children and families. My family has been here since 1942. Working hard and building a community. Tired of walking kids to school and passing by someone smoking crack or shooting up. Or going to the pharmacy at Walgreens after working ten hours to pick up medicine for my kid at home while I stand behind someone in line purchasing needles for their heroine habit. Glad you are thriving. Whatever your definition of that is. I hope the children in your life are thriving too and will one day grow up to be thriving adults who use their talents and passions to contribute to their communities. To do that, their safety and needs and life experience need to be out first. They don’t get any choices period. Adults choose their own path and are responsible for it. We are responsible for the lives of children as a community to be compassionate and safe and thrive.

    • DoingItAllInVenice

      This is why we are doing it all in Venice. Thanks for making Venice safe and clean for the homeless/low income. We really appreciate this. Were looking forward to seeing more affordable housing and homeless housing in Venice. We look forward to seeing more services for the homeless/low income in Venice. The City of Los Angeles wants to do it all in Venice, why don’t you? Come join the small world ride it’s going to be lots of fun. Where the homeless/low income, and even people who make a lot of money can co exist. It’s the rebirth of Venice California. Welcome neighbor. And see you at the beach.

  3. Anonymous

    Dear “YouDontHaveThatKindOFPower” Say, weren’t you one of the fellows (or gals… if that applies)in one of your incarnations, that said that you were going to boycott this site because it is biased???

    The majority of Venetians want these programs??? By what poll? No one here wants to erase you or the people you champion. Most just think that there might be better, more cost effective, and less invasive ways to address the situation. If fact, we welcome your opinions as long as they are brief, to the point, and not accusatory. Between the disinformation and the constant challenging, it appears that you are trying to extract something politically incorrect to use against the community while attempting to establish the notion that there is massive community support for your position. People posting here are smart enough not to take the bait (and actually are quite liberal on most other issues), and just by the amount of contrary opinions voiced here on the Update, and the outcome of the last VNC election, there is not any massive support beyond the City and the local social services that stand to collect millions in funding. I’m sure there are solutions but these are questionable and not done with the correct process or transparency.

  4. Heather Beeman-Kahler

    Inputed by Reta for Heather Beeman-Kahler
    Fantastic!
    I want to join “Kids Count”. Children and families deserve better than a dictatorship of Bonin’s short sighted plans. Kids always seem like they are last on our City’s list. It is time to put kids, families, and hard-working tax paying law abiding citizens needs as paramount.It helps no one to steamroll out plans out of urgent desperation with no thought of the fallout and consequences. Our neighborhood kids have enough to deal with already. Drug use is in plain sight in our neighborhood streets – hard drug use. Kids and families walk by that daily – pan handlers and people passed out on the sidewalk, or actively using drugs in plain sight – on their way to school or to Walgreen’s as it is. The solutions need to be viable solutions that do not put the burden of lifestyle choices, addiction, and mental illness on families front doorsteps and playgrounds and schools. Sensible compassion, solutions that fit the reality of the circumstances. Community members who follow the rules and try to build a safe and viable life should not be the scapegoat safety-net for those that choose drugs, crime, or sheer apathy towards responsibility for their path. The leaders are not inviting these people storage in their office parking garage, or home, or a bed to sleep in in their backyard. When they do that, then I will have faith that that they “mean to do good” as opposed to “trying to look good”.

    Setting aside the categories above, Mentally ill and veterans need real support and intervention – not a storage locker. It is not even a band-aid, this storage locker system, it is a complete distraction and aversion to do what really needs to be done to help those in need.

    • Anonymous

      Heather Beeman-Kahler,
      I’m in total agreement with you and we need to be in control of what happens with our community.

    • heidi

      Hey Heather – Venice Kids Count is an neighborhood association – as such, everyone who donates to it is part of the association and by proxy, a Plaintiff against the city. It’s up to each individual to determine if they want to be identified publicly. Also, ALL donations are used for LEGAL FEES ONLY. All other activities on behalf of Venice Kids Count are entirely funded through donation of services and goods. Our steering committee is comprised of attorneys and paralegals who are donating time and research skills to keep costs down.

      The Court Order is concrete – it is clear that the City is acting in an illegal manner. We have raised a ton of money and lord knows we need even more of it. This will be a long fight and we are all committed to see it through to the bitter end. If we have any funds leftover, all money will be returned to the donors on a pro rata basis. And at that time, they will have an option to either receive a refund or to donate their share to Westminster Elementary, who will no doubt suffer when Bonin opens his storage facility this November. Unfortunately, our court date is well after that and the legal process is slow…but lots of evidence will be collected once the facility opens.

  5. Nick Antonicello

    Venice doesn’t matter. It’s time to get behind city-hood! #Vexit

    • Lee

      Nick, you and Heidi find a way to get it going and we will all support you to get us to independence from CD11 bureaucracy and imposed agendas on our community!

  6. Anonymous

    The ever overposting troll-with-no-name said: “What happens in Venice doesn’t stay in Venice.” What a refreshing idea… That would satisfy most of the residents.

  7. Bruce

    Were the proper steps taken with Coastal Commission and proper posting of notices? I remember seeing that the CEX (Coastal Exemption) appeal period had already expired by the time the notice was posted on the Coastal Commission website. Were these additional “dirty tricks” being used by the CD11 office to push through a pet project?

    • James

      It is frustrating that residents and business owners have to go through a number of planning requirements that are costly and time consuming but the government does not follow their own rules.

  8. Anonymous

    Heidi,
    Has the suit been filed or are you giving Bonin heads up?

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