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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Homeless Committee June Meet Tables All Motions for Later; Discusses Two

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Standing room only for the Homeless Committee June meet.

By Angela McGregor

The most recent Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) Homeless Committee Meeting drew a packed house of opinionated citizens to hear four motions set to change the streets of Venice.

The meeting opened with Chairman Will Hawkins delivering the Chairman’s Report, announcing that the committee’s Reunification Program had, as of last week, gotten 40 homeless persons off the streets of Venice.

Motion 1 — Assigned Places on Sidewalk
Motion #1 was a proposal to create a “safe camping” program in Venice, wherein individual blocks could choose to sponsor a specific reserved spot for individuals currently enrolled in the Coordinated Entry System (CES) program in need of a place to reside while awaiting services. The space would only be available from 6am to 9pm, and would require a vote of 2/3 of all of the residents on that block.

Public commentary on this motion was universally opposed to motion. Among the concerns: There is currently no enforcement of any laws when it comes to the homeless (several Venetians cited incidents wherein they had called police to no avail about encampments in their neighborhoods) and so the assumption that the curfew would be enforced was unrealistic; the motion would spread “Rose Avenue conditions” to all parts of Venice; any sort of sidewalk “housing” is unsanitary, unsafe and inhumane; liability for these “adopted” encampments (which could be substantial) would likely fall on the property owners on the block.

Both Venice Stakeholders Association (VSA) President Mark Ryavec and former Homeless Committee member Heidi Roberts opposed the measure on the grounds that Venice needs solutions that discourage street camping instead of codifying it. Will Hawkins spoke in favor of the motion by stating that the committee was looking for ways, in light of the current out-of-control conditions on the sidewalks, to regulate the situation and encourage enrollment into the CES. The motion was ultimately tabled for 30-60 days in order to retool it.

Motions 2 and 3 — Adopt a Tent and Residential Safe Parking 
Motions #2 and #3 — the creation of an “Adopt a Tent” program and a “Residential Safe Parking” program — were tabled to make time to discuss Motion #4, the Motion to Support Bridge Housing at the MTA Bus Yard, which, as presented in the agenda, contained several “TBD” clauses designed to incorporate suggestions made by those at the meeting.

Motion 4 — Proposed Use of Metro Lot
The facility as proposed would service 100 CES-enrolled individuals at a time — roughly half of those living on Venice’s streets who are currently enrolled, and only about 10 percent of the total population (per the latest LAHSA numbers).

According to Hawkins, these individuals would reside at the Yard for no more than 3-4 months at a time, until other services or housing could be found for them. Details of the plan — which will be discussed at a Community Meet with Mike Bonin on June 13th at 6pm at Westminster Elementary School — have yet to be fully revealed, and so several residents objected to the motion on the grounds that it was premature and did not give the residents enough time or information with which to weigh in.

Still others voiced concerns that the facility might actually attract more homeless to Venice in search of services. The proposed shelter is close to a couple of local schools, and residents suggested a “no encampment zone” around it, for perhaps as many as 10 blocks in all directions. While the City has stated that building the facility would allow for more sanitation dollars to go to Venice to clear out encampments, in light of the current conditions many speakers insisted on increased law enforcement as well.

One attendant who said he was representing dozens of residents living at 700 Main Street stated that his entire building is opposed to the idea, and convinced that it will wind up being a permanent structure (the announcement stated it would only be opened for about 3 years, until the development for the site is initiated).

VNC Board member Jim Murez (who was in the audience) pointed out that the use of the Yard for this purpose is a “violation of land use”, and as such Venice is within its rights to ask for a a sunset clause which would close the facility within a certain number of months if the desired result is not obtaind or conditions are not enforced, as well as another such clause to make sure the facility is closed within the stated 3-year period.

Both Heidi Roberts and Committee member Brian Ulf spoke in favor of the facility. Ms. Roberts — who has opposed other City-sponsored homeless projects in Venice in the past — said that this was the first one that made sense to her and has the potential to actually alleviate the situation. Nevertheless, in light of the lack of public trust in Mike Bonin, she felt that this will be a very “hard sell” for the City. Ulf stated that he feels strongly this facility and the increased outreach that will come with it have the potential to “actually break up encampments” by removing CES-willing occupants from the streets, and encouraging the service-resistant to enroll in CES.

The motion was tabled to the next meeting. Will Hawkins closed the meeting by pointing out that “Bridge Housing at the Bus Yard” is coming, and that the community must work to put together a series of “asks” to ensure that it is successful.

Comments (16)

  1. Rick Swinger

    To quote Mike Jagger we are in “A Crossfire of a Hurricane!” but its 3 or more Hurricanes..
    1.Out of Control Populations of Homeless.

    2.Cluessless Government Officials in dealing with this long time problem.

    3.Corporations and Real Estate owners ignoring their responsibilities and their property right’s liabilities in connection to the sidewalks they own.

    The simple question we must ask the Major and our Councilman is with the obvious mismanagement of filthy toilet paperless 24/7 restrooms at Horizon/OFW thats cost us $250,000 plus/yr and the mismanagement of the cesspool teaming with E.Coli bacteria next to a playground on Rose Beach how can we trust you to manage a 100 tents capacity campgrounds in our neighborhood? Please don’t give that responsibility to SJC for we have seen how they clean our streets or VCHC we have heard horror stories from tenants about them too!

  2. mary

    I attended this meeting and it felt like being in an outpost of Bonin’s office. This committee is supposed to represent the interests of Venice — and obviously Venice needs FEWER homeless people. But one of the things that was crystal clear at this meeting was that the members of this committee are NOT interested in reducing the number of homeless people in Venice, they are ONLY interested in helping homeless people STAY in Venice. There were no proposals to ensure better enforcement of existing laws, or ones to help residents get their streets back. There were only proposals to help more homeless people live on our streets. And if you are a Venice resident, you can only draw one conclusion: this committee doesn’t REPRESENT you — it represents random strangers from all over the country who just happened to show up in Venice to sleep and defecate on our streets.
    Venice residents need a Homeless Committee that is democratic — one that seeks to help the majority of Venetians with homeless policies and programs. And we need a committee that pushes back and tells Bonin: “There is NO MORE CAPACITY for more homeless people in Venice.” They should telling Bonin’s office: “Put some (ANY!) homeless housing in Brentwood or Mar Vista, or Pacific Palisades.” This committee should be mounting efforts that force the City to clean up these encampments and force the police to enforce the laws. This committee, if it were truly to represent the citizens of Venice, would be shouting at the top of their voices about the fact that Venice has taken nearly ALL of the homeless housing in this district — because places like Pacific Palisades, Brentwood and Mar Vista aren’t being asked to take ANY!!! If someone wants to talk about NIMBYism, then they should take a good long look at THOSE communities. Before Venice is asked to house even ONE more homeless person, we need these other communities to STEP UP, and we need our Homeless Committee to PUSH BACK!!! BECAUSE if they won’t push back — after Venetians have accepted SO much — we can only conclude that they’re not working for Venice residents, they’re working for Mike Bonin and the thousands of transients who are turning Venice into a slum.

    • Diana

      You’ve gone to one meeting and now you think you’re some kind of authority on what this committee has done? You have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. Look at the list of accomplishments posted below…and you still don’t get it? These are volunteers donating their time and they’ve housed 40 people! There’s just no pleasing some of you. Pathetic.

  3. Will Hawkins

    Way too much misinformation being thrown around here by people who have never attended any our committee meetings before now and have not gotten involved on any level to be a part of our ongoing efforts to serve our community.

    Over the last two our work as a committee has been balanced and productive. We’ve pushed back on public bathrooms, requested immediate health services during the Hep A epidemic and helped stop the city from using the senior center as a homeless storage facility. Not to mention that we created the city’s first reunification program that housed over 40 homeless people over the last 18 months. That’s 40 more people housed than any other neighborhood council.

    Our only agenda is to find innovative and creative ways to reduce the homeless population. Period. And we’ve done that..we have reduced homelessness through our reunification program. That’s more than any other neighborhood council has done in the entire city. And for those who’ve paid attention…there has been a lot of support in the community for this homeless committee and for the programs we’ve recommended and created. And just bc you and your neighbors bum-rushed one meeting doesn’t mean that any of you speak for everyone.

    Since this is the first meeting you’ve attended I suggest you go back and look at the successes that we’ve had over the last two years. I’ve done you the service or listing some of the highlights below…

    July 2016
    - Passed Motion Opposing Westminster Senior Center for Homeless Storage

    August 2016
    - Passed motion supporting a Venice Homeless Mobile Storage program that went on to be supported by Mayor Garcetti’s office and made available to faith-based organizations around dates city providing old metro buses for $1 to anyone that wanted to start their own program.

    September 2016
    - Motion Passed supporting Venice Safe Parking Program

    - Will joins Venice Forward meeting month with other Venice area Homeless professionals, organizations and Councilman Bonin.

    October 2016
    - Motion passed to support Miracle Messages Reunification Program
    - Homeless Committee announces that all future meetings will be held at area homeless organizations so that the Venice citizens can tour facilities sand learn about whats being done in their community to fight homelessness.

    November 2016
    - Executed Reunification Program with St Joseph Center, Safe Place for Youth and Miracles Messages. Reuniting upwards of ten individuals and saving the city around $500,000 in the process.
    - Will is appointed Liaison to the Mayors Joint Task Force on Homelessness with other district Homeless Committee Chairman, City Deputy Mayors, and directors of LAHSA.

    January 2017
    - Motion passed to recommend LA city to allow Section Eight Vouchers to be used for Roommate situations to allow people with vouchers to find affordable living before vouchers expire.
    - Motion passed recommending the city to create a program that pays LA families a stipend to assist housing homeless family members.
    - Homeless committee announces that they will add a revolving seat on the committee for local homeless professionals to brighter knowledge and experience to assist the community on a 3-4 month basis.

    February 2017
    - Homeless Committee recommends that city should take action to minimize the effects of homeless encampments by prohibiting two tents from being less than 25’ apart. Motion to be presented to the community 3/27/17.
    - Motion passed to recommend VNC and HC to adopt defining principals in the R3 document that we support programs and services that drive down the homeless population that Reduce, Return, Rehouse the homeless. (attached)

    March 2017
    - Homeless Committee creating monthly presentation of homeless professionals and the work they do in other communities.
    - Homeless Committee creates presented performance from Ronald Troy Collins who is a talented singer-songwriter who is the subject of a documentary “Might Ground”.

    https://www.mightyground.com

    May 2017
    Passed motion to request that city preserve the safety of those who live in and around RVs inhabited by homeless that all RVs on the streets of Venice maintain working smoke and carbon monixcide detectors and for extinguishers and always display inspection sticker on windshield.

    VHC presented Sofia Borges of the USC School of Architecture.
    http://www.latimes.com/opinion/livable-city/la-ol-homeless-measure-h-architecture-nimby-20170310-story.html

    August 2017
    Motion for StreetDonations
    Motion: Driving Donations to Professional Service Providers
    Whereas, professional homeless service organizations, city officials, and law enforcement all agree that street donations of food, clothing, and other items often do more harm than good by disrupting the process of helping people get off the street — creating dangerous and unclean environment for both the housed and unhoused, and costs the city tens of thousands of dollars a year in street cleanup and trash collection costs. Be it resolved that the VNC sign the attached letter to be handed out to those making street donations asking them to partner with Venice service agencies instead of dropping donations on the street.

    September 2017
    Motion to Request Emergency Health Care Kiosks at Venice
    homeless encampments.
    Whereas the city homeless population is drawing near to be a city state of emergency.
    Whereas multiple cases or MRSA and Hepatitis A have been reported among te homeless population.

    October 2017
    Motion to Address Mobile Bathroom Plan
    Whereas – placing bathrooms of any kind in proximity to resideces or businesses will place undue burden on property owners,
    Therefore, the VNC recommends AGAINST placing mobile bathrooms of any kind within 100 yards of any residence or on sidewalks or streets adjacent to any private property (residential, commercial, or industrial) without prior written consent of property owner(s) AND 2/3 of property owners on both sides the contiguous city block.
    Therefore: The Venice Homeless Committee recommends that all RVs, large vans and oversized vehicles being used as temporary homes on the streets of Venice must be equipped with fire extinguishers, carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.
    And, all RVs, large vans and oversized vehicles must be inspected annually by LAPD and/or LAFD and approved for these safety devices.
    And, all RVs, large vans and oversized vehicles must always display proof of inspection on windshield.

    November 2017
    Motion to limit locations of proposed mobile bathrooms around residential and commercial properties.
    Whereas – placing portable public bathrooms of any kind in proximity to residences or businesses will place undue burden on property owners,
    Therefore, the VNC recommends any portable bathrooms or wash stations be placed on city owned property and not within 50 feet of any entrances to residences or businesses. Furthermore, the VNC recommends AGAINST placing mobile public bathrooms or wash stations on sidewalks or streets adjacent to any private property (residential, commercial, or industrial) without prior written consent of the adjacent property owner(s) AND 2/3 of property owners on both sides the contiguous city block with exceptions for special events and construction sites.

    December 2017
    - Homeless Committee executes 2nd Annual home for the holidays reunification efforts, housing 12 people.

    January 2018
    Homeless committee announced that over 30 people had been housed through their reunification efforts, saving the city over $2.5 million in housing and services costs.

    February 2018
    The concept started by the Venice Reunification program is presented by Councilmember Martinez to the city council recommending that the city create a permanent Office of Family Reunification.

    March 2018
    Will Hawkins testified at city council administrative committee hearing in support for Office of Family Reunification where the motion passed. It now goes to city council for approval.

    April 2018
    - Venice Homeless Committee assists VA in creating the nations very first Safe Parking Program for veterans in the West LA VA campus.

    May 2018
    - MOTION TO SUPPORT REQUEST FOR 2018 JONES SETTLEMENT STATUS. (Passed)

    - MOTION TO SUPPORT LA OFFICE OF FAMILY REUNIFICATION. (Passed)

    - MOTION TO SUPPORT WEST LA VA MASTERPLAN FOR HOMELESS HOUSING (passed)

    - MOTION TO SUPPORT SAFE CAMPING PROGRAM. (Rescheduled)

    - MOTION TO SUPPORT RESIDENTIAL SAFE PARKING PROGRAM. (Rescheduled)

    - MOTION TO SUPPORT HOMELESS ADOPT-A-TENT PROGRAM. (Rescheduled)

    - MOTION TO SUPPORT BRIDGE HOUSING IN VENICE. (Rescheduled)

    June 2018
    - MOTION TO SUPPORT SAFE CAMPING PROGRAM. (Rescheduled)

    - MOTION TO SUPPORT RESIDENTIAL SAFE PARKING PROGRAM. (Rescheduled)

    - MOTION TO SUPPORT HOMELESS ADOPT-A-TENT PROGRAM (Rescheduled)

    - MOTION TO SUPPORT BRIDGE HOUSING IN VENICE. (Rescheduled)

    Feel free to share this with your friends and neighbors and I encourage you to get involved as a volunteer so we can all work together to reduce homelessness together.

    You can contact me at william.hawkins@venicenc.org with any questions.
    Thanks

  4. Nick Antonicello

    Mike Bonin’s support is dwindling in a very changing Venice. He is in big trouble and this imposition of homeless housing at the beach is going to be his political Waterloo.

    • Brad Morrison

      I attended the meeting and it was very clear from the beginning that the VNC Homeless Committee is a special interest group advocating for homeless rights and does not, in any way, represent the interests or wishes of the residents of Venice. Will Hawkins was clearly advocating for the proposals that he wrote, and the rest of the committee seemed complicit. The public was unanimous in its vehement opposition to measure 1. If the committee truly represented the residents of Venice, the measure would have been quickly voted down–not tabled. It’s also worth noting that of the 8 committee members, 2 were formerly homeless, and presumably homeless advocates themselves. This committee should be immediately removed and reformed with new members who more accurately represent the citizens of Venice. The current committee cannot be trusted to recommend solutions for the homeless crisis our community is facing.

      • Diana

        I couldn’t disagree more. The homeless committee are unpaid volunteers that have housed almost almost as many people as the local non-profits that get paid millions of dollars. We’re lucky to have them. Bridge housing is the best option I’ve seen so far and I will be at the next meeting with my neighbors to show support.

        • Nick Antonicello

          Agreed, but Mike Bonin in my mind is using the Homeless Committee to shield himself from public accountability and scrutiny. Will, Hollie and Brian in particular care about the plight of the homeless and have done some great things. All three should be commended while Bonin hides from public view and his overt political posturing is disgusting and wrong. He is in many ways like Donald Trump with his wrong-headed, unable to communicate with those who oppose him on policy and nothing more. He’s a cancer on a serious public discourse on homelessness and a flunky for the developer community. I can say it while others cannot.

      • Henry

        Hi Brad,

        I completely agree with Diana in that I couldn’t disagree more with you. Bridge housing is the best option available, and will be going into an empty lot that is not even being used. The homeless individuals are here to stay anyway, why not put some in shelters?? These are human beings, not pieces to be moved around for you (dis)pleasure.

        Do NOT presume to speak for the entirety of the Venice community. As a life-time resident, I absolutely support the VNC Homelessness Committee and support the Bridge Housing Proposal in the Metro lot.

      • Bruce

        Brad, thanks for taking the time to attend. Angela, appreciate the summary. I watched the entire meeting summary that was posted, and it was a real eye-opener –

        http://phoenixthottam.com/vnc-homeless-committee-meeting-re-bridge-housing-etc-june-4-2018-1-hr-45-min/

      • Jonah

        What a hateful group of NIMBY’s. Let’s get this straight…you absolutely DO NOT speak for me or for the rest of Venice. I’m disgusted at the outright prejudice and vile sense of entitlement exhibited by this mob. And that’s what you are…a hateful and selfish mob who have no sense of empathy or compassion. Will Hawkins and the other members of the homeless committee are volunteers who have worked tirelessly to improve our community and I think they’re doing an amazing job. You have my support…Keep it up!

        • Anonymous

          Bonin to staff:
          Go post on Venice Update and show support for Bridge Housing at the Metro Yard.

          List of things to do:

          Post under your first name only. It shows you’re “real” but still are anonymous.
          Mention “Will Hawkins” by his full name.
          Add that you’ve lived in Venice for a very long time.

          The actual readers and commenters will never suspect a thing!!

          • Nick Antonicello

            That’s persuasive! A bunch of city employees employed by Bonin masking themselves as residents of Venice? A bunch of six-figure hacks that can barely walk and chew gum. How this is tolerated is just amazing to me. Bonin couldn’t get elected dog catcher anywhere else and when his myopic and delusional attempt to become mayor is crushed, maybe his massive ego will deflate and come back to earth. He simply lacks the personality to get ANYTHING done people. Name something, anything he’s done in six years?

        • mary

          Brad’s comments are EXACTLY correct. Homeless now effects the majority of the people who live in Venice — both homeless and housed. It is absolutely unjust that the Homeless Committee only considers the needs of the homeless — and not the residents who will also be effected — when they make these awful proposals. The Homeless Committee needs to consider the wishes and concerns of the MAJORITY. At this point the entire community of Venice is held hostage to the minority. Homeless people show up in our community from all over the country and their needs are prioritized above people who have spent over 20 years in Venice. And the accusation of NIMBYism is just ridiculous when you level it at Venice residents! Venice is shouldering nearly the ENTIRE burden of housing the homeless in this district. What about Brentwood? Or the Pacific Palisades? Or Mar Vista? They have done nothing!! They haven’t been asked to accommodate ANY of the housing projects. But Venice, which is by far the smallest community, has been forced to accept THREE of them. How dare anyone call Venice residents out for NIMBYism! Venice residents have every right to say: “ENOUGH! It’s someone else’s turn. It’s the time for the Pacific Palisades, or Brentwood, or Mar Vista, or ANY other community in this district to STEP UP! ” We need our elected officials to push BACK against Bonin’s demands that Venice take all of the homeless in his district.

          • Billy Bathgate

            You and your friends really need to educate ourselves on what the residents of Pacific Palisades did to help the homeless out who were there. You’re making fools of yourselves.

          • Sea

            Nick, you ask what has Bonin done in 6 years… closed traffic lanes in Venice, Mar Vista, Playa Vista and Playa del Rey

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