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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Community Behind “Venice Kids Count” vs. City of Los Angeles

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“Venice Kids Count,” a broad coalition of neighbors, parents, and residents in Venice, filed suit against the City of Los Angeles last Wednesday to stop the city from illegally converting the Westminster Senior Center into a storage and services hub for the homeless. Update came out with a special edition that day.

Less than a week has passed and several members of the coalition and nearby residents were asked what had transpired since the law suit. Many did not feel comfortable commenting publicly.

Community Response Since Suit

“We’ve received so much support from the community, both in donations as well as ideas and energy,” said Heidi Roberts. “People are astonished that the City would even consider opening this facility just 250 feet from multiple schools. And these people are furious when they learn it’s illegal and the City has tried to sneak it through, bypassing standard permits and checks.

“For years, the City of Los Angeles did nothing to help homeless people. In fact, their obsession with hyper-development caused so much of it. And now that they are finally being forced to address the crisis of homelessness, they’re acting out of desperation. As Bonin says ‘something’s better than nothing.’ That’s pretty tough for parents of those 400+ school kids to hear. We get that the City has to take steps to help the homeless, but not at the expense of Venice kids. That’s lunacy.”

“Lot of activity about the law suit,” said Reta Moser of Venice Update. “The story is widely read on the web. Ray Lopez, producer of John and Ken show emailed the other day about getting someone to talk with regarding the placement of the storage near the school. His statement was ‘What a ridiculous plan and no way it should be near your neighborhood school.’ Update remains neutral so several names were given to him for contacting.”

However, Update has stated publicly that it supports the Mobile Storage Plan proposed and vetted by the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) Homeless Committee.

Center Surrounded by Residents and the Westminster School

Westminster Senior Center, between Pacific and Main at Westminster, is adjacent to residential properties on three sides and the Westminster Elementary School where 400 children go to school on one side. The Westminster center has been home to the must loved dog park.

The City is planning to open the storage facility in the senior center on November 1.

Court said Playground, Recreation

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 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.

“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 facts, contact information, background, opportunity to donate.

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