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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Betz Talks of Westminster Park, Asks City to Control Park

Note: As stated in the Encampment Update last week, Westminster Senior Center Park has grown in number of tenters. Update didn’t know one could sleep in a park. Thought this was against the law.  So many laws have been twisted and bent, one has trouble knowing the laws and the ones being enforced. One person last week reported increased crime activity in the area. Now John Betz, who lives adjacent to the park , has written Morgan Bostic, Venice Deputy, asking the council office to do something about it.  People are getting tired of laws being bent and of the lawlessness of the homeless as reported recently in the LA Times survey.

The law affecting parks hours of operation is LAMC 63.44, and if Westminster is governed by this law,  the park should be closed at 10:30 pm.

(Photo by John Betz.)

By John Betz

I am John Betz.  I live at 1006 Pacific Avenue in Venice, 1/2 block from the Westminster Park.  I have been watching a permanent encampment grow in the Westminster Park along Pacific Avenue over the past several months.  These pictures were taken at 7 am this morning.  They show tents, mattresses, appliances, trash, broken furniture, bicycle parts, and God knows what else strewn throughout the park. These people have generators running and other evidence that this is not “day use” of the park – it is a permanent encampment, which is not legal, not even for the unhoused under our current interpretation of the law.

The current law as I understand it:
It is not legal for anyone to erect tents in the park overnight (sunset to sunrise).Tents, even those on public property, must be taken down from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and there must be at least 36 inches of clearance on sidewalks.

The illegal behavior in the Park:
The behaviors that have been going on in the Westminster Park are not legal.  The tents you see in this picture are there all day and all night, every day and every night.  I know – I check at all hours.  I have checked at midnight.  I have checked at 3 a.m.  Many remain in the park day and night, 24/7.  Those that are on the sidewalk remain up all day and on many days block the entire sidewalk to pedestrian traffic.  Many I have spoken with are afraid to even walk by or enter the park, particularly women and children.

I and my neighbors have placed many calls to LAPD over the past months but little has changed. I see police cars drive by the park multiple times a day and do nothing, despite our calls.  As it stands today, most feel our park is not safe to play in or walk through.  None in our community is able to use it (except for the handful of illegal squatters who are monopolizing this resource).

Local crime is up.  According to my informal observations crime in our neighborhood has increased.  I have had two occasions in the past few weeks when someone jumped my nine foot fence and rifled through and stole our personal property.  On one of these occasions, a bicycle was stolen.  A couple of days ago when my wife was trying to leave our house some drug-crazed squatter from the park was standing outside our garage door and fence literally growling at her and refused to move. She could not back her car out of the garage and was concerned for her safety and the safety of our son.  And the number of threatening confrontations I have had during my daily life around our house with drugged out street psychos has also increased during the past months.  This is not satisfactory on any level.  But it is the same pattern we see over and over.  Whenever an encampment is allowed to fester in our neighborhood, these ancillary crime and safety problems come with it.

When it comes to the homeless problem in our community, we try to take an understanding and compassionate approach to the associated problems, both those that the CIty is faced with and those that our community is faced with.  But, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that what is going on in the park is a blatant violation of the law that goes beyond the pale of reasonableness.  This true despite Boise, despite Jones Act, despite all of it.  This is not a case of the police not being able to do anything – this is a case of the police (and the City) CHOOSING to do nothing.  You have the tools, please use them.  This is particularly important when one considers that this is all going on within a block of an elementary school.

I have been watching this train wreck for several months and taken what I consider mild and appropriate action to try to get some corrective assistance from the City and from LAPD.  But as is usually the case in Los Angeles, we residents always have to escalate our complaint to get anything accomplished.  Consider this email my first step in the escalation continuum.

Comment (1)

  1. LAPD is manipulate stats

    We as residents need and deserve access to any departments stats that are here work LAPD cases… I have mine moved to LAX… the investigations not court cases….
    What’s happening is transients are being identified on reporting as unemployed… this is the binned stack.. LAX who city pays sends over cops they pay overtime to come clear the decks as closed out and considered or investigated by them.. internally affairs can not investigate them or thier investigations and thier stats just do not reflect cause not LAPD… these special LAX cops average 190k salary..
    ETC is going on bonin..
    This is why your crime maps are distorted and manipulated https://imgur.com/gallery/LOwdFZa

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