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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Moms and kids forced into the street because of encampments


Two women with children facing encampment in the middle of the photo.  One is in the street and the other will have to enter to be able to pass.

By Sam Awad

(7 August 2019) Because of the lack of enforcement of 56.11 and the Jones Settlement, on a daily basis we are forced off the sidewalk and into the street facing traffic because transient encampments are blocking the whole sidewalk and not leaving more than 6 or 8 inches for anything else to pass, which is not ADA compliant.

Without these planters, you are putting children’s lives in danger again, and this post will go on the record in the unfortunate case of injury due to unsafe passage on a Venice sidewalk.

Please stop ignoring the safety of Venice residents and allow neighborhood beautification projects and enforce 56.11,  the Jones Settlement, and the Federal ADA law as written.

I am at a loss for words on what is happening in this city. What is wrong with this picture other than everything.

Frustrated Venice Resident

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.

What does the Jones Settlement, Ninth Circuit (Boise case) Decision Have to Do With LA Homeless?

The Jones Settlement, the Ninth Circuit court decision have been bantered around a lot and people are curious about these two in relation to the Los Angeles homeless situation. Mark Ryavec, president of the Venice Stakeholders Association recently wrote the following to Venice United group in reply to an inaccurate statement. It seems worth printing to help readers get clarification on these two subjects.

I will say again:

The Jones Settlement is a dead issue. The city built the 1250 units of permanent supportive housing required by Jones and even the Mayor declared last year that the settlement was satisfied.

The Boise, Idaho Martin decision does not apply to Los Angeles. This is from our attorney’s letter to Bonin, Garcetti, and Moore of November 2, 2018:

In their argument for enforcement (of LAMC 41.18) only near Bridge Housing facilities, Chief Moore, Mayor Garcetti and other Bridge Housing proponents have cited to a recent decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Martin v. Boise (Case No. No. 15-35845). However, that case holds, at most, that shelter beds must be available somewhere in the City before an ordinance like section 41.18(d) can be enforced.

In Martin, the City of Boise had a program in which the three homeless shelters in the city each self-reported to the city whether they were full each day. If they weren’t, the police were free to issue citations to people sleeping on public property. A group of homeless persons sued the city, contending that even though one of the shelters had routinely reported that it had free beds, in fact these beds were not available to some offenders, either because of restrictions on length of stay, limited check-in times, or a requirement to participate in religious programs. Under these circumstances, the court noted that there was evidence that despite the self-reporting of the shelters, shelter beds were not actually available to violators. On that basis the court denied the city’s request to dismiss the case and allowed it to proceed.

The City of Boise is approximately 9 miles by 9 miles in size, making up over 82 square miles. The average low temperature in December and January is 23 degrees. Yet the Martin court said nothing about the distance between the homeless persons to be cited and the available shelter beds; much less did it set any minimum requirement for that distance. Nor did the court even imply that the city was obligated to offer an actual shelter bed to a violator, or to transport the violator to a shelter, as a precondition of issuing a citation. Instead, the court merely found that in order to cite an offender, a shelter bed must be available somewhere in the city.

In sum, the City of Los Angeles is basing its Bridge Housing siting practices upon a myth – namely, that the Jones Settlement, and/or the Martin decision, requires that shelter beds must be in close proximity to the violator in order to allow enforcement of section 41.18(d).

In fact, there is nothing in the Jones Settlement or the Martin decision that precludes the City from pursuing the model favored by VSA, in which police officers themselves (or social workers working in tandem with them) make credible, documented offers of housing and transportation, and then, when such offers are rejected, proceed to enforce section 41.18(d).

The Mayor, Councilman Bonin and the ACLU have been mischaraterizing the Martin decision to support their ideological position favoring no enforcement of ordinances (41.18 and 56.11) that indeed allow the LAPD and Sanitation to break up encampments.

Finally, we have yet to see City Attorney Feuer definitely state whether there is anything new in the Martin decision from the earlier take-away from Jones: to enforce 41.18 at night and avoid another Jones-like lawsuit there must be a credible offer of a shelter bed. But I have been saying this for over five years. And nothing in Jones or Martin restricts enforcing 41.18 from 6 am to 9 pm, so I would again call upon the LAPD, in instances where campers are living within 300 feet of residences, to wake them all up at 6 am, double back at 6:30 am, and if they have not moved on, cite them and then the next day if they are still sitting on the sidewalk after 6 am, arrest them, and after a few arrests, apply for a stay away order. I appreciate that this process is labor intensive, but life is hell otherwise for residents when these encampments are just a few feet away.

Ninth Circuit Refuses to Re-Hear Martin Vs. City of Boise, Idaho


These are the states affected by the Ninth Circuit Court decision.

The Ninth Circuit Court, 1 April, refused to re-hear the Martin- suit against the City of Boise, Idaho. The Ninth Circuit thus continues to say that prosecuting people for sleeping on the streets if they have nowhere else to go is cruel and unusual punishment, a violation of the 8th Amendment of the US Constitution.

The city had asked for an “en banc” re-hearing, which would have meant a larger panel of judges than the usual three that are used in appeals.

The City of Boise released the following statement:

Todayʼs ruling does not mean the city ordinances are (unconstitutional), it simply has the effect of forcing the matter to be litigated further. Therefore, the cityʼs camping and disorderly conduct ordinances remain in effect until further clarification can be obtained from the courts; the ruling will not cause us to change our procedures.

Los Angeles has the Jones Settlement. Mayor Eric Garcetti stated: Los Angeles has a 50-year-old law banning sidewalk sleeping but has not enforced it in recent years due to a 2007 settlement with the ACLU. Last year Mayor Eric Garcetti said the city would start to enforce the ban again but only near one of 15 new emergency shelters.

Legal Issues Cloud the Cleanup of the Homeless Encampments at El Pueblo and Venice

Carol Sobel, civil rights attorney and resident of Santa Monica, “filed a federal law suit asking the court to intervene in camp cleanups in Venice.”

“The lawsuit followed a letter from attorneys with the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles warning of the ‘serious constitutional questions’ with the special zone enforcement,” according to LA Times article.

The LA Times article.

One of the questions posed by Venetians at the Town Hall was “How would the Mayor cleanup encampments after a Bridge Housing system is implemented in light of the letter sent to him by the Legal Aid Foundation. What would this mean to Venice. Would Venice have even more homeless.

Now Sobel is upset with the way Venice does the cleanup of encampments in Venice.

City of Boise, Idaho Appeals Ninth Circuit Overnight Camping Case

appeals

The case at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that put a blanket “bed for the homeless” ruling similar to the Los Angeles Jones Settlement is being appealed by the City of Boise.

The Court of Appeals decision effected states shown. The decision was made last month.  Los Angeles has been at the forefront of the “bed for the homeless” with the Jones Settlement  since 2007.

Congressional Candidate Wright Proposes a “Township” for Homeless

Venetian Dr. Kenneth W. Wright, MD, who is running for the US Congress, California District 33, was asked by the Venice Update what he would do to help solve this homeless crisis California is experiencing.

Update explained that, as of now, 240 units of affordable/psh and 100 units for homeless transitional housing are planned for Venice’s three square miles and residents feel it is overkill. Update said that residents are suing because other areas within Congressional District 33 had no such plans for homeless and certainly not in proportion to Venice’s size of three square miles.

His answer was “I will send you some information.”

Dr.Kenneth Wright, MD is an internationally respected pediatric eye surgeon that has experience in caring for the underprivileged and homeless. His practice is in Beverly Hills next to Cedars Sinai hospital. He lives in Venice, the part referred to as Marina del Rey by the post office. Dr. Wright founded the Wright Foundation a non-profit 501c (3) that supports a pediatric eye clinic for underprivileged children in Los Angeles. He is also author of numerous medical books and articles.

The Township Option for Homeless — the Street is Not an Option

By Dr. Kenneth W. Wright

It is estimated that there are over a half a million homeless people in the United States and almost 60,000 in Los Angeles County alone. The County spent over $150 million last year on homeless programs and this coming year LA City is allocating almost $400 million.

Despite this huge commitment the crisis only seems to be getting worse.

The truth is, most traditional homeless programs provide stop-gap measures. While well-intended, outdoor showers, street lockers, relaxed overnight parking restrictions, blankets, and soup kitchens do not solve the problem and may act to increase the number of homeless.

Even shelters and transitional housing are only short term Band-Aids and do not address the fact that most homeless need much more than four walls and a roof. They need a structured environment: job training, life skills counseling, and drug and alcohol addiction rehabilitation. Additionally, those with debilitating physical or mental disorders require ongoing life-long care.

The Township Option
I suggest a new approach — “The Township Option”. The Township is a large, self-contained, multi-acre area that will provide housing, scheduled meals, job training, and a safe, structured environment. Admission to the Township will be voluntary on referral from existing shelters or social services.

The Township will provide vocational training with on-site workplaces (e.g., furniture factory and construction site), gardens, mental health services, counseling, legal services, and alcohol and/or drug rehabilitation. Volunteers, including veterans, retirees, and professionals, can participate as adjuncts to staff. This is not an “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” program. For some, it will be a way to transition into mainstream society, while for others the Township will be “home”.

One possible site for the Township is an abandoned military base such as Fort Ord in Monterey, California. Funding would come from a combination of private foundations, state and federal government, and income generated from the Township.

“The Township location will also address the ‘not in my backyard’ issue as it will not be in your backyard,” said Dr. Wright.  “Politicians have to remember, hardworking citizens who pay rent and are property owners have rights too.  City officials are responsible for keeping the communities safe and sane.”

Ted Hayes Established the Dome Village
The Township concept is not new. In 1993, Ted Hayes established the Dome Village for homeless. Located in Downtown Los Angeles, the Dome Village housed approximately 30 homeless singles and families for over 13 years. According to Ted, Dome Village residents got along well.

dome

Educational programs were offered, including workshops in computer literacy, job-searches, and legal issues. Many residents graduated to productive lives outside the Village, while others required chronic care. Ted did a poll of homeless people in Los Angeles and over 90 percent said they would be in favor of the Township Option. Having a large facility will also allow enforcement of vagrancy laws as there will be a safe beautiful place for the homeless to go.

Once established and refined, the Township Option could be replicated throughout the United States. If elected to Congress, I will sponsor a bill to fund a pilot Township Option project and to authorize use of an abandoned federal facility. The street should not be an option for those who cannot make it in mainstream society.

Garcetti to drop Jones Settlement with caution

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The news of Mayor Eric Garcetti dropping the Jones Settlement and enforcing LAMC 41.18 spread like wildfire in the Venice Community Friday followed by Saturday’s  LA Times story with the Mayor stating that the building requirements for Jones had been met.

The Mayor did say this would be handled with caution and people would not be ticketed if there wasn’t some form of shelter available.  Implementation specifics are not known yet.  

The Jones Settlement  is an agreement the City made with the ACLU and others representing the homeless of LA.  It is basically a deviation from LAMC 41.18 that states 

LAMC 41.18. 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.

Jones Settlement. The Jones Settlement allows people to sleep, loiter on the sidewalk except between the hours of 6 am and 9 pm.  The Jones settlement came about because there wasn’t sufficient housing.  The City off LA has met the requirement of 1250 units with 50 percent in Skid Row.  See Jones Settlement.

Regina Weller, executive director of the LAPD Homeless Task Force, checked in immediately with a positive note  stating “GREAT NEWS: A lift of the suspension would relieve the influx of people from other states coming into California, maybe persuade some people to go into the open doors of rehab, possibly prompt more to consider returning home to their families, reduce the amount of residential crime, and certainly reduce the amount of homeless-on-homeless crime, including rapes, and drug overdoses.”

Regina, who has been helping the homeless for years along with her husband Pastor Steve Weller, made the statement years ago that 90 percent of the homeless in Venice were transient and 75 percent were addicted.  Former LAPD captain Nicole Alberka had similar statistics.

George Francisco, president of the Venice Chamber of Commerce and vice-president of the Venice Neighborhood Council, said “We are happy to see that the city has taken steps to provide the mandated housing required under the Settlement. And while our hope is that the current announcement enhances safety and cleanliness on our streets, we will continue to support policies that increase the ability to provide housing for everyone.”

Will Hawkins, chair of the Homeless Committee of the Venice Neighborhood Council, had this to say: “This is a long time coming and a step in the right direction. If Mayor Garcetti’s Bridge Housing plan is going to have a chance to succeed in reducing homelessness this is the kind of enforcement that needs to be implemented. And that can’t be done as long as the Jones Settlement is in place.

“Ultimately, I believe we need an equal balance of services, housing and enforcement if we ever want to overcome this crisis. Its encouraging to me that the mayor is finally showing that he’s really serious about doing that.”

Mark Ryavec, president of the Venice Stakeholders Association, has advocated for some time that the Jones Settlement should be removed.

Jones Settlement Incentive to Come

firesytone

15 June 2018.  The Jones Settlement, basically, says that people can sleep on the sidewalks of Los Angeles from 9 pm to 6 am. They can do such until 1250 permanent supportive housing (PSH) units are constructed within the City of Los Angeles and at least 50 percent of those are located in Skid Row and/or greater downtown Los Angeles.  It is reproduced in its entirety Jones Settlement

Also they have to be 10 feet from an entrance/exit to a building, parking lot, loading dock. In addition, the police must give a verbal warning they are in violation of LAMC 41.18(d) and give them reasonable time to respond.

LAMC 41.18(D) states “No person shall sit, lie or sleep in or upon any street, sidewalk or other public way,” unless they were attending a parade.”

2007

In 2007 the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) took the City of Los Angeles to court. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said the enforcement of the LA law against sleeping on the streets was unconstitutional. The City of Los Angeles made an agreement with the American Civil Liberties Union to allow people to sleep on the streets throughout the city as specified in the Jones Settlement. They said the police will not enforce LAMC41.18(d) between the hours of 9 pm and 6 am.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said it was a violation of the eighth amendment of the Bill of Rights which states: Amendment VIII — Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

On the other hand, many feel that LA should have taken the decision to US Supreme Court, arguing that it had a compelling reason to prohibit people from sitting, lying or sleeping on sidewalks. It also could have changed the law. The ACLU gave up the ability to use the Ninth Circuit ruling as a precedent for future lawsuits, but they can still sue.  That was 2007.

2015

According to the Los Angeles Daily News (https://www.dailynews.com/2017/06/20/la-should-revisit-lawsuit-settlement-that-allowed-skid-row-conditions-everywhere-susan-shelley/) Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department reported that the requirements of the settlement had been met: 1,170 CH (chronically homeless) units had been built, including 656 in the downtown Skid Row area, with more under construction.  That was 2015.

The Venice Neighborhood Council has made repeated attempts to get the City to monitor, to report the number of units built, status of the Jones Settlement.

Taylor Bazley, Venice deputy for Councilman Mike Bonin, made a statement at the Venice Neighborhood Council  that because of the influx of homeless into Los Angeles, that the City felt any court decision would require a higher number  for compliance to the Jones Settlement. Time, more homeless, settlement agreement should be more.

On the other hand, many feel this created the incentive to come to Los Angeles thus increasing the number.  The question is: If one were homeless, or really not inclined to work, and one liked the weather and the comraderie, wouldn’t one come to Los Angeles? They started to come before Measure H and Measure HHH. Now Los Angeles promises to build new apartments for the homeless. In Venice they are taking valuable property less than a 1000 feet from the water for this housing.

The former police captain of the LAPD, Pacific Division said 90 percent of the homeless in Venice were transient. That meant they did come from, originate in Venice or even in California. The statement went on to state that 75 percent of the Venice homeless were addicted — drugs or alcohol.  This has been verified by  Homeless Task Force member Regina Weller.

2018

People are asking for an accounting. They are being ignored. They feel the laxity of the law and the promise of a new apartment is just too inviting.

The facts are here.  For Venice, they are not from Venice, not from California.  Even the LA County figures show a great percentage from out of state.

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

homeles

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.