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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

“Homes for Hope,” RV Safety Motion, Shelter Vacancies Discussed at Homeless Meet


Members of the Homeless Committee from left to right are Sunny Bak, Brian Ulf, Chairman William Hawkins, Matt Shaw and Kip Pardue. Holly Stenson was not present.

By Angela McGregor

USC Professor Sofia Borges presented her “Homes for Hope” and two motions were considered at the Venice Neighborhood Committee meet Tuesday. Kip Pardue, a Venice resident was introduced as the next four-month rotating member of the committee. He replaces the St. Joseph’s Center’s Erin McGuiness.

Professor Borges presented her “Homes for Hope” as low-cost, modular homes that provide a bridge between street living and permanent housing. The 92 square-foot “homes,” at a cost of $25,000 each, are versatile and are preapproved by LA Building and Safety. They can be stacked or walls can be removed to make a larger room. Thirty can be stacked two-high on a 5,000 square-foot lot and can be built and placed on site within two weeks. When a project contains fewer than 30 units, it is considered (for zoning purposes) to be “by-right” and as such doesn’t require public approval.

In addition, these units are mobile and so can be placed temporarily in vacant lots in lieu of future, more permanent development. The homes are the product of Mad Workshop (http://madworkshop.org/the-homeless-studio/), who is currently building a 30-bed modular shelter for women for Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission in the San Fernando Valley and are seeking funds to build more homes. They hope to partner with other service organizations, and have the support of the city of Los Angeles.

The first motion on the evening’s agenda drew a large crowd of supporters and dissenters. It called for the City, in light of the West L.A. Shelter’s average 36% vacancy rate, to again enforce LAMC 41.18 and 56.11, which state that “No person shall stand in or upon any street, sidewalk or other public way open for pedestrian travel or otherwise occupy any portion thereof in such a manner as to annoy or molest any pedestrian thereon or so as to obstruct or unreasonably interfere with the free passage of pedestrians and which thereby prohibits occupation of any portion of a sidewalk or parkway in a manner that annoys any pedestrian or obstructs the free passage of pedestrians.” (See https://www.lahsa.org/ces/winter-shelter/occupancy-dashboard)

Note: The Venice Update tried to get a nightly vacancy number to publish but the system on the web never worked for the Westside shelter.

Public commentary included observations that the shelters, while not full, were also hotbeds of theft and violence. There was also some question as to whether or not transportation to the shelters was readily available. Finally, the shelters are currently closed, and only open on a seasonal basis. Board commentary centered around these issues, plus the fact that the vacant shelter beds preclude any city funding for additional shelter beds and are a waste of taxpayer money. The Board decided to decline the motion, 5-0.

In light of the current crisis of encampments in Venice, they will revisit the issue to make a more comprehensive motion that would pressure the city to make the shelters safer and more inviting, as well as to address the issues of transportation to and from the shelters and communicating shelter bed availability to the homeless population.

The second motion before the Committee addressed the issue of RV safety, and called upon the city to inspect RV’s in which persons are living to ensure that they have working fire extinguishers and smoke/carbon monoxide detectors. The reasoning behind this measure is that now that persons are allowed to park their RVs on residential streets and in front of businesses, the city has an obligation to ensure that these vehicles — which frequently carry full tanks of propane as well as gasoline — do not pose a danger. This requirement would work similarly to a smog check. RV owners would bring their vehicles to police or fire stations for inspection annually, and be given a placard or sticker to indicate they had passed inspection. The motion passed 5-0 and will now go to the VNC for a vote.

Comment (1)

  1. Anonymous

    RE: Homes For Hope – Looks like a great idea – Same meeting; Interesting that the homeless are reticent to use the City shelters. “Public commentary included observations that the shelters, while not full, were also hotbeds of theft and violence.” So why is it OK to let people, a number with this criminal mentality, camp on the beach and street by our homes?

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