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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Taxpayer Lawsuit Filed to Force Housing of All Homeless in Less Expensive Facilities

Attorney Elizabeth Mitchell of the law firm of Spertus, Landes and Umhofer, representing the homeless, property owners, residents and the disabled, has filed a lawsuit in Federal Court to force the City and County of Los Angeles to house all of its homeless in less expensive facilities as soon as possible.

The suit contains 14 causes of action, including:

The City and County have breached their duty to their citizens to keep their communities’ streets open and available for movement of people and property.

Mandatory Duty
Basic shelter is “medically necessary” insofar as it is “reasonable and necessary to protect life, to prevent significant illness or significant disability, or to alleviate severe pain” and the City and County’s failure to provide the same to its homeless population constitutes a breach of its duty under California Welfare & Institution Code Sections 17000 and 10000.

Public and Private NuisanceThe City and County have caused a substantial and unreasonable interference with the enjoyment of citizens’ property, whether that be a building owned or room rented; each have suffered and continue to be threatened with respect to their health and welfare, by reason of the constant threat of disease and the experience of human waste, trash, and encampments outside their property.

Inverse Condemnation
The actions by the City have limited, damaged, and/or burdened the owners’ property and/or business so substantially they rise to the level of a regulatory taking, yet no compensation has been provided.

Waste of Public Funds and Resources
The City and the County have spent enormous amounts of public funds on the homelessness crisis in ways that have had little or no effect on the crisis, and thereby wasted those public funds.

Violation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)
umerous acts by the City constitute a “project” under CEQA, including the power-washing scheme which flushes thousands of tons per year of toxic substances into our oceans. The City’s decision to settle Mitchell v. City of Los Angeles is another example of a “project” in the Skid Row area; permitting unlimited property accumulation in the area has caused untold amounts of human waste, trash, debris, and toxic substances to wash into our waterways. Substantial evidence exists that the growing homelessness crisis may have a significant effect on the environment. Yet no review has ever been done, in violation of the CEQA.

Violation of the California Disabled Persons Act and American with Disabilities Act
The City and County are failing to uphold their obligations to maintain clear and accessible sidewalks and public rights-of way for its disabled residents and visitors, resulting in regular violations of the California Disabled Persons Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. These violations are obvious and known to the City and County both through their own inspections and various reports of blocked sidewalks due to encampments through its own reporting mechanisms, such as 311. Defendants and its agents and employees have failed and continue to fail to provide reasonable accommodations for disabled persons using public sidewalks.

Violation of Due Process and Equal Protection
By enforcing the law in some areas and declining to enforce the law in others, and by abdicating their duties under the law, the City has arbitrarily determined where homeless encampments may or may not be located and what communities should be affected, without following their own respective procedures and in violation of both state and federal law. This has placed a disproportionate burden on some persons, communities, and businesses over others.

Violation of State-Created Danger Doctrine
Defendants have affirmatively created or increased the risk that citizens would be exposed to dangerous conditions, which placed these citizens specifically at risk, and these citizens were harmed as a result.

Uncompensated Taking
The actions by the City have limited, damaged, and/or burdened the property owners so substantially they rise to the level of a regulatory taking, yet no compensation has been provided.

Municipal Liability for Unconstitutional Custom or Policy
The City and County acted with deliberate indifference, and conscious and reckless disregard to the safety, security, and constitutional and statutory rights of citizens.

Towards the objective of housing all unsheltered homeless persons as soon as possible, the suit asks for immediate funding and of proven less-costly housing models, including:

1. Large membrane tents capable of housing 100 people that may be constructed in a few months (cost: $10,000 per bed), e.g., the Union Rescue Mission just erected one at that price.
2. Large military-grade inflatable tents (cost: $6,000 per bed).
3. Pallet shelters (cost: $2,000 per bed).
4. Tent “Kits” capable of housing a family of four, with furniture, refrigerator, heater and electrical generator (Cost: $500 per bed, $2,000 per kit).
5. SHARE Collaborative Housing, two persons per bedroom in existing single-family homes and multi-family buildings (Cost: $500 to $700 monthly rent self-financed by each individual’s SSI, General Relief and other benefits; $8,000 cost per annuum per person for management, peer-counseling and other social services).

The suit would also require the City to maintain 36-inch ADA access on all sidewalks all the time.

HCIDLA General Manager Resigns

By Darryl DuFay

As it becomes clearer that the billion dollar “Homeless Industry” is in deep trouble of their own making, the City/County leadership in charge of the homeless are abandoning their positions of power.  First it was Peter Lynnn, Executive Director of LAHSA  who resigned 31 December 2019.

Now, it is Rushmore Cervantes, General Manager, of HCIDLA (Housing Community Investment Department of Los Angeles), which controls all of the property owned by the City of Los Angeles.  It also …”facilitates the funding of housing projects with federal, state and local money, inspects and enforces city codes meant to prevent shoddy conditions in apartment complexes, and oversees program to assist poor Angelenos, among other responsibilities.” (see LA Times article below)

The LA City Council is supporting its own Homelessness and Poverty Committee’s Motion for an “investigation” of LAHSA mismanagement.  A similar Motion for  HCIDLA would be in order.<http://enewspaper.latimes.com/infinity/article_share.aspx?guid=6d024074-992e-4a32-81c7-e1a8af57edee

US Supreme Court Says “No” to Hearing 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Decision

US Supreme Court justices said “no” to hearing the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision regarding homelessness on the sidewalks.  Many states within the 9th circuit asked the US Supreme Court to hear the case to at least define the situation more clearly.

LA Times article.

Homeless Housing Costs are Touted at 500K, 700K Plus; How About 5K?

Heidi Roberts and John Betz of Venice have a proven system of housing the homeless for $5000 a piece.

They buy duplexes with many bedrooms.  In each bedroom they put two people.  Everyone lives together and energize and motivate each other.

Heidi and John have also  learned it pays to have a “peer” person to help, one who has had similar problems.

Heidi says they have an 84 percent track record.  The people are housed and they have accomplished one other thing in their lives — gotten a job, gotten off drugs, etc.

Mayor Eric Garcetti recently visited one of their places and talked with some of the tenants.  One would hope the mayor sees this as an alternative to a new apartment for each.

The pod cast with Heidi talking about the projects  is at https://www.insearchofsanity.org/podcast-episodes.html.  Heidi’s part is about ten minutes from 38:40 to 51.


Mike’s Newsletter Says 8600 Units From Measure HHH Funds in Works

From Councilman Mike Bonin’s September Neighborhoods First Newsletter

The City is moving forward on the homeless housing voters called for in 2016 when they approved Proposition HHH. The Council has approved funding for more than 8600 units of HHH-funded housing. That total includes 5,873 supportive housing units for homeless people who need social services, 1,641 affordable units for very-low-income Angelenos, and 975 smaller units being constructed of innovative materials for homeless residents. There are 1,400 units in construction right now, 1,000 of which are expected to be ready to occupy in 2020. An additional 3,713 are forecast to open in 2021.

For more information about how Proposition HHH money is being spent, visit the HHH Progress Dashboard at https://hcidla.lacity.org/hhh-progress.

Metro Site Development Guidelines Released

(27 July 2019) Metro releases development guidelines for the old bus lot at Sunset between Main and Pacific Ave, which is 3.1 acres of Venice’s most prime land.

Metro has been getting input from residents of Venice to provide the guidelines for more than a year. Do you want a hotel? Do you want walk streets? Do you want condominiums? Do you want a community area?

The site is to be built, starting within three years. In the meantime a “bridge housing” project is scheduled for October of this year and to be present on the site until start of construction for the Metro development.

Supreme Court Grants Extension for City of Boise Homeless Case to be Heard

(14 July 2019) This month the U.S. Supreme Court granted Theodore B. Olson and Theane Evangelis on behalf of the City of Boise an extension to ask the justices to take up the case of Martin vs. City of Boise, according to Sunday LA Times article. The petition to the U.S. Supreme Court is due 29 August with a decision from the court as to whether to hear the appeal expected no sooner than October.

Most are familiar with the Jones Settlement which allowed homeless to sleep on the sidewalks until a certain number of units were built in both downtown Los Angels and other other areas. Earlier this year the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard Martin vs. City of Boise that stated one cannot criminalize homeless if there is no shelter for them. The ruling effected nine states, one of which was California.

The LA Times article gives the history of these decisions and explains what has happened as a result. Los Angeles is caught in the middle of keeping the homeless comfortable and out of court and the city clean and free of disease.

Property Owners Required to Take Section 8

(22 June 2019) On June 11, 2019, the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors voted to adopt an ordinance to require rental housing providers to accept rental housing vouchers and in particular, Section 8 program vouchers.

A week later, on June 18, 2019 the Los Angeles City Council voted to adopt a similar ordinance which makes it illegal for any rental housing provider of any type of housing accommodation, including an agent or employee, to engage in a range of unlawful activities towards recipients of Section 8 or any other rental housing vouchers.

Throughout the legislative process, AAGLA strongly advocated against the mandate, urging the City Council and Board Supervisors to work with their respective Housing Authorities to address the inherent administrative problems with the Section 8 program and provide incentives for rental housing provider program participation instead of mandating participation in a broken program in need of extensive improvements.


Councilmembers Propose Penalty for Vacant Housing Units in LA

LOS ANGELES – In a bold step to confront one of the root causes of the homelessness crisis in Los Angeles, City Councilmembers Mike Bonin, Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Paul Koretz and David Ryu today called for the city to begin penalizing landlords who keep habitable housing units empty while tens of thousands of Angelenos are forced to live on the streets because of the high cost of housing.

Legislation proposed at today’s council meeting instructs the Housing and Community Investment Department to work with the City Attorney to report to the council with options for creating a charge for landlords who keep housing units empty. In other jurisdictions where similar efforts have been implemented, not only have vacancy rates declined, but millions of dollars have been generated by the charges to help create new affordable housing.

“No bed in this city should be empty when people are being forced to sleep on pavement,” Bonin said. “Empty home penalties encourage landlords to keep people housed, and they help raise needed funds to create more affordable housing. This is an important tool for addressing one of the root causes of homelessness in LA, and it is a step we desperately need to take.”

“Working class Angelenos are struggling to make ends meet and keep a roof over their heads.” said Councilmember Marqueece Harris Dawson “With the latest homeless count numbers, we have to work harder to find as many solutions as possible to open up more housing units as well as funding for them.”

An estimated 111,810 housing units in the City of Los Angeles are vacant, according to Census data, and with the 2019 LAHSA Homeless Count showing an increase in homelessness despite housing more people than ever before, it is clear that the housing crisis and homelessness crisis are inexorably linked. Vacancy penalties already exist in cities like Oakland, Washington DC, and Vancouver, B.C., and voters San Francisco are likely to soon consider a similar measure.

HUD Proposes No Housing for Undocumented

On May 10, 2019, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released a proposed rule change which, if approved, would restrict the ability of “ineligible” immigrants, including those who are undocumented, to reside in federally-assisted public housing and housing-choice voucher assisted housing. LAHSA strongly opposes this proposed change, which would send thousands more Angeleno households to the brink of homelessness.

At present, ineligible immigrants are able to reside in federally-assisted housing (including public housing and voucher-supported units) as long as they are part of a “mixed-status” family, meaning at least one member of the household has an eligible immigration or citizenship status. In these cases, subsidies are pro-rated based on the number of eligible members in the household. HUD’s proposed rule change, however, would require that all residents and leaseholders of federally-assisted public housing or voucher-supported units be verified as eligible. As a result, this proposed rule change has the potential to severely impact thousands of mixed-status families, forcing them to choose between separating or staying together and facing eviction.

The proposed rule, if enacted, could impact around 11,000 individuals receiving benefits through the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) as part of a mixed-status household. The Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles (HACoLA) also estimates that just under 500 mixed-status households would be impacted as well. Additionally, by removing ineligible immigrants and thus eliminating “pro-rated” subsidies, HUD would need to increase national spending between $193 to $227 million annually to maintain assistance to the same number of individuals.