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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

New York Times Talks of LA Skid Row; Mentions Venice

By Kevin “Kip” Pardue
This New York Times article was just sent my way…It’s an article looking deeply into the aging homeless population specifically in LA’s Skid Row. It highlights just how desperate and dire the situation is. Los Angeles is in a time of need.

There is a definite thread in Venice that those who are against supporting certain services in Venice are against homelessness and, therefore, are “pro-gentrification.” I can assure you that is not MY position nor the position of most of my friends and neighbors. Nearly everyone I encounter wants to help those in need by providing sensible housing in sensible locations. Handing out “coffee and soup,” providing places to nap, and an occasional shower are even criticized by the most destitute in this article.

From the outset, it has been my belief – and the belief of nearly everyone I speak with – that selling the Venice median parking lot would be the quickest and most efficient way to house those in need. The substantial money made from the sale could then immediately be used to mass-lease/convert existing housing to “housing for the homeless,” build on other (less valuable – these lots would not make the city as much money if sold) city-owned lots, and/or purchase land on which housing could be built.

Of course, there are several other arguments against the Venice median lot being used – it’s proximity to the Boardwalk and it’s temptations, the vast number of tourists who visit the area (and tend to give to panhandlers, further enabling the homeless), the influx of young families with children, density issues, Coastal Commission issues…These, however, sit well behind the fact that raising money and moving quickly to help the homeless should be the goal of the city.

This article also highlights something else: the difference in the homeless populations found in Venice and Skid Row. Without fail, every single person I encounter – long-time resident, pro-homeless, owner, renter, young, old – mentions the change in Venice’s homeless population. It is a younger, more aggressive, and less considerate group. It is a group that is often threatening and almost always “service-resistant.” This is yet another reason the “coffee and soup” model is broken in Venice. Creating a place for hand-out services at the Westminster Senior Center – also near the Boardwalk, families, and across the street from an elementary school – would only exacerbate an already terrible situation.

People will continue to say that emails like this are the equivalent of building walls. They will say the “new” Venice is heartless and less compassionate. There will be cries of gentrification. The people who cry this are often missing the point.

Helping the maximum amount of people in the safest, sanest, fastest way is the point.

Yes, housing for the homeless should be (and will continue to be) located in and around Venice – but not in the middle of an already busy area bustling with children and tourists. The new VCH building on Beach Ave is a great project (the cost of building is ridiculous and unsustainable in the future) for the area – a relatively small number of units (20) in a much-less-visited area close to industrial units and Lincoln (transportation, access to affordable goods, job possibilities). Others like this are possible and would be supported if presented.

There are those who need help in Venice and throughout LA. If the goal is to truly help them, stop policies that actively keep people on the streets and start raising funds immediately. The policies that are in place now are not working. We all see it everyday.

Comments (7)

  1. Lee

    Well said Kip, thank you! I’m losing hope that we can get the city to listen to reason.

  2. I don’t think we need “camps” for that and need “enforcement” like you the idea you have. I don’t think Venice is Bumtopia like you also said Rick. I do think Venice should be free for anyone to enjoy. Social services isn’t a cash cow. Social services needs to be aggressively implemented more in Los Angeles to help the homeless and low income. I see Venice as a mecca for social services. Venice can be the homeless welcome hub for the world. We can be a world model for how to help the homeless. We can have housing here in Venice for low income and the homeless and more social services to help them. We don’t need “camps” to do this and “enforcement”. People come to Venice to find themselves even if they come down from downtown l.a. or as far as Venice Florida. This isn’t Bumtopia Rick. This is Venice California. And we can be the homeless helper of the world.

  3. Graham

    Hey Rick, You don’t live here anymore. Take a hike,dude. Go find something in your new neighborhood to complain about.

    • Rick Feibusch

      Hey Graham – I still feel for my friends and former neighbors who continue to have to put up with being dominated by a culture of misguided do-gooders and a lobbying organization of local social services that characterize any opposition as “developers” and “racists” though they are neither… In the end it is all about money, yet the residents must pay with their quality of life… People like you and Linda Lucks claim to love Venice, but you apparently extremely dislike most Venice residents.. or at least are willing to sacrifice their quality of life in favor of people from who-knows-where and the funding that they provide to local nonprofits…

  4. reta

    Inputed by Reta for Rick Feibusch Interesting article but NOT about Venice – Most of the homeless up here in Santa Rosa are either older or have serious visible mental disorders (ie talking to people who are not there, for instance…) They are harmless and taken care of by the local social services. The amount of clients does not overwhelm the available services and there is little of interest for the young travelers who migrate to Venice to live in the fun and sun with a bunch of their “bros” and free flowing drugs and alcohol… I’m sure that the SR locals are drinkers and are not keeping up on their meds, but the situation being encouraged in Venice is something way beyond control at this point… The answer is camps (hard to say without using a German accent…) that provide food, supervision, counselling , and shelter combined with enforcement that moves people on or into services. I still think that the situation in Venice is a social service cash cow that is being developed with no end in sight..

    Help should go to veterans first, families second, seniors third and then the great unwashed mentals, drunks, and addicts – BUT WHAT THE HELL DO I KNOW??? My degree is in communication…

    • Did I read it correctly? Someone has an idea of “camps” for the homeless? You could have called it anything you wanted to call it but you chose to use “camps”. You want to use enforcement? That will never happen. And that’s my point of view.

      • Rick Feibusch

        For lack of a better word, yes camps… a place where people who want assistance can get assistance in a supportive community with the elements needed to help people back from the edges of society. Not mandatory, but a place to go besides away or under a freeway… Of course, there is the free Venice alternative: make the whole town a giant campground for transients and RV dwellers and provide services like holding tank pumping, parking lots, showers, storage and garbage removal just to make life on the street and beach easier… Bumtopia!!! And that will never happen either. And that’s my point of view.

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