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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Raucous Homeless Committee Meeting Fails to Deliver Motion

By Angela McGregor

The public meeting room at the Venice Public Library was packed with an overflow crowd on Thursday night to weigh in  on the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) Homeless Committee’s single motion:

MOTION TO AMEND LAMC 41.18 The Venice Neighborhood Council calls upon the Los Angeles City Council to Amend LAMC 41.18 as follows: (d) No person shall sit, lie or sleep in or upon any street, sidewalk, or other public right-of-way as follows: (1) At any time in a manner that restricts fifteen feet of clearance from any utilizable and operational entrance, exit, driveway or loading dock. (2) At any time in a manner that restricts passage to less than 36” in any and all directions, as required by the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). (3) At any time: (i)Within 300 feet of any structure, with a Certificate of Occupancy, that is in residential use. (ii)Within 500 feet of a park. (iii)Within 500feet of a school. (iv)Within 500 feet of a daycare center. (v)In or upon any tunnel, bridge or pedestrian subway that is on a route designated by City Council resolution as a school route. (vi)Within 500 feet of a facility opened after January 1, 2018 to provide housing, shelter, supportive services, safe parking, or storage to homeless persons. (vi) Bike and other recreational paths. (vii)Public areas(non-sidewalk) posted with No Trespass signs for safety purposes. (viii)Public areas posted with closing times for safety and maintenance purposes. (ix) Crowded public sidewalk areas like those exempted in the Citywide vending ordinance and other large venue-adjacent areas. Upon passage this Resolution shall be presented as a Community Impact Statement to the City Council and attached to Council File #19-06Q2-S1.

According to the presenter of the motion, VNC Board member Mark Ryavec, 90 percent of the motion was drafted by the City Attorney at the request of City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, in response to the recent Boise decision by the US Supreme Court.

Prior to the motion being presented, dozens of attendees spoke during general commentary to give their opinions and/or experiences with the homeless population of Venice. Many had been victims of violence by the homeless, including three stakeholders who recounted elderly neighbors being assaulted and robbed.

Others pointed out to cheers from the crowd that the homelessness crisis in California is not due to housing but rather mental illness and substance addiction, and that services to address this need to be prioritized over other solutions.

When CD11 Bridge Housing representative Allison Willhite introduced herself, she was asked whether the Bridge Housing facility being built on the site of the MTA bus yard (due to open late next month) on Main Street would feature rehab and/or mental health treatment. She declined to state, but suggested holding a special committee meeting in the future to discuss concerns regarding the facility.

Commentary from the loud and occasionally rowdy crowd was almost universally in favor of the motion. Board commentary from the four committee members who attended (Will Hawkins and Liz Wright were absent) was as follows:

Brian Ulf, who described himself as a long time recovering addict, member of the LAPD’s advisory committee and board member of SHARE (Self Help and Recovery Exchange) Collaborative Housing, stated that it was clear to him that the community has “reached a crisis level and deserves answers, and a response.”  He offered to meet  with anyone with questions after the meeting. He voted in favor of the motion, he said, because Venice is suffering more than any other community, and this would send a “small message” to the City council that things are becoming intolerable.

Michael Rapkin, a local attorney who has advocated on behalf of the homeless for several years, stated that the measure was legally unenforceable and so he could not support it after a somewhat long-winded explanation that included his recounting of taking in a homeless couple for four months and arguing on behalf of a woman living in her RV.

Committee Co-Chair Frank Murphy, a local developer who has pushed for denser housing in Venice, also voted against the measure. He acknowledged that Venice has both a disproportionate number of homeless as well as services, but stated these needed to be dealt with “in a smart way” and that the motion, which he also deemed unenforceable, was “not smart”.

Committee Co-Chair Charles Rials, elected to the VNC Board as an at-large community officer last year, also voted against the motion. He stood and described himself as “formerly homeless” and said he knew “what it’s like not to have any place to live on the street because no one wants you there”. In a 2019 article in the Argonaut, Rials said that he had arrived in Venice at the age of 15 after escaping foster care in Texas. Rials was convicted in November of 2015 of assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury, after a widely publicized incident in which he and a gang of local skateboarders pinned a 16 –year-old girl to the ground and opened her skull with a skateboard. After leaving prison in April 2016 he became an outreach worker for Safe Place for Youth.

The crowd responded angrily to the vote, and immediately a petition was circulated to get the motion onto the agenda of the next VNC meeting, which will occur in February.

The next meeting of the VNC Board will be Tuesday, February 18th.

Comments (8)

  1. Nick Antonicello

    All these Philadelphia lawyers claiming its unenforceable? Based on what? Why is it unenforceable? None of these people are lawyers or cops or legislators. There are those who will say anything to keep the homeless on the streets and in Venice because there is money to be made by the scum who bottom feeds off the misery of others.

  2. Helen F Fallon

    Those 3 men who voted against supporting the city council’s efforts to protect neighborhoods impacted by homeless encampments aren’t even in favor of preventing homeless from camping adjacent to schools including nursery schools or from being barred from camping/blocking sidewalks that are part of a designated safe school route! Shame on them for putting not only our children but children all over LA at risk.

  3. Jack Norris

    An unruly mob does not make a majority. And even if you were the majority it wouldn’t matter. This proposal is unconstitutional and immoral in that it essentially banishes any and all homeless from the entire City of Los Angeles. It’s not going to happen. You John Birchers can huff and puff all you want but what you want will never happen. And if you try and take the law into your own hands you will be met with an appropriate response That you can count on.

    • Nicholas Antonicello

      Another Philadelphia lawyer who has no idea what he’s talking about except the talking points from the left.

  4. They don’t even seem to want to compromise in anyway. This , I don’t get!!! Are we to live with their bad choices forever. There’s 4 groups of homeless in my opinion: criminals, mentally ill, drug dealers/users, and the true homeless. Why can’t we start there. Divide and conquer. Betcha it won’t happen, wanna know why; the money will stop filling Bonin’s pickets.

  5. I agree the agreement is not enforceable; which is no better than what we have now. Work to make it equable and enforceable. What a mess we are in!

  6. Carol

    Great write up, Angela…thank you. One other thing to mention is that Frank Murphy announced that he had not yet read the motion – all 3 paragraphs of it which he had access to for weeks before this meeting – and therefore wanted the motion to be shelved until the February meeting. Unbelievable! Fortunately, the crowd was having none of this nonsense and asked him to stand up and read it out loud to the room, which he did very reluctantly. I guess this should have been the forwarding that the committee was not going to represent the wishes of all but a few stakeholders in the room. It was a total sham and Frank and Michael should be ashamed of themselves, whereas Brian did represent the wishes of the stakeholders, and Charles was at least true to himself.

  7. Jami

    I am in agreement that the laws need to keep the larger community safe and property secure. They need to reflect what the larger community needs.

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