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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Venetians Like First Police Town Hall Initiated by Chief Moore

The room was not as filled as it was for the MTA Town Hall but Captain James Roberts of LAPD Pacific Division said that was good … “not as many people are angry.”    The auditorium was lined with policemen. The panel was seated in front, one side featured most of the Senior Lead Officers with traffic enforcement officers and the other side had police with a table for email addresses and suggestions.  Photo was taken near the end of program when many had left.

… and they listened.

The first Venice Police Town Hall was held Thursday evening with approximately 30 officers involved with the Venice operations. The officer and person responsible for the Town Hall was Chief of Police Michel Moore.

Venetians were pleasantly surprised and impressed. One of the main gripes Venetians have is that no one listens to them. They claim they have legitimate gripes, they do their homework, they are properly prepared, and yet, the powers that be act autonomously.

The evening seemed to evolve into one of wanting to help each other — community and police working together to make the Venice-peculiar situations solvable.

Moore  has a track record with Venetians. Moore at the October Venice Town Hall said he would clean the beach — enforce the curfew, Within two days citations were given out to violators of the curfew. Beach went from 81 tents to 0 in October.

He asked Venetians at the Venice Town Hall if they would like a Police Town Hall. There was a  stunning silence for a short time. Venetians are not used to being treated as viable citizens.  A little over a month later and there is a Police town Hall.

The Town Hall started out with the Chief  introducing Brian Morrison as the new Captain, replacing Captain James Roberts, and talking about the organization, the policing policy.

It then shifted to Captain James Setzer talking about crime in areas A11 and A13, headed by SLO Jennifer Muther and Kristan Delatori, the Ocean Front Walk area and the Oakwood areas, respectively. Setzer explained that crime was down. One person shouted out that crimes were not reported. It was explained that this person would have a turn. It was reported there were no murders to report and one person said a person was murdered in front of her store. It appeared that there was a large percentage of crime committed by the homeless against the homeless. One officer said “homeless seem to prey on homeless.”

Then the Town Hall was opened to questions. Many questions were dialogues instead of questions but for the questions, the police took notes, addressed individual concerns, or talked with individuals afterward, and in some cases, promised to investigate their concerns. Many times the applicable officer would answer the questions.

Mark Ryavec was very complimentary regarding outgoing Captain James Roberts.

The Chief gave out an email address for all Venetians and promised that emails would be answered and comments properly addressed. There was a sense of both community and police working together to clean up their community. The email is VeniceCommunity@LAPD.online. The following are some of the questions, some of the comments.

Paul Bascal, film maker and activist, explained that departments need to work together to accomplish accomplish certain tasks.

Bascal got his answer from two officers — Captain  Roberts and Officer Michael Soliman, head of the Venice Substation at the beach, and that is the way the evening worked … Questions with answers or comments, or follow-up promises. This answer explained the complexity the police are confronted with when dealing with different departments at the beach.

One person asked why not give Venice more police. Chief Moore said he had just given Venice 10 additional police but had to take them from another area. The Chief stated that there were 600 fewer police than there were before (writer did not catch year). He said an allocation accounting study was going to be completed within six months and perhaps that would allow for more. Chief said the study was initiated by Councilman Mike Bonin.

Another complained about the scooters on the sidewalks. One person complained about the needles that children and dogs could access. An officer said they were working on that and explained that they caught a drug dealer in one group.

Chief of Police Michel Moore discussing government intervention with Ted Hayes, who feels this is the way to go.

One asked about crimes under $700 or 900. An officer explained that citizens had passed Law V40 that allowed judges to move felonies to misdemeanors. He said it used to be that people facing a felony and on drugs had a choice of  mandatory recovery programs or jail in most cases. Now most felonies have been reduced to  misdemeanors and jail is a day or so, if anything.

One person wanted to discuss “No Trespassing” sign 4124. Assistant City Attorney Claudia Martin explained that if you have a closed, locked backyard, the police will not enter unless you give approval. Approval is given if you are absent by displaying 4142. “Sign shops are familiar with this trespassing approval,” Martin said.  Without a gated yard, there is no access problem.

A man claimed that he saw people breaking into cars and painting cars and fences. He called 911 and 911 operator told him to call the non-emergency number. One officer who used to work in 911 department explained that they get 5 to 700,000 calls per day and most are crimes in progress and life threatening ones.  This was wrong and it was unfortunate.

One said he had witnessed dog owners getting cited for a dog on the beach, people given tickets for not having a license on their car and more, yet the homeless get away with so many violations. He just didn’t understand.

One person made the statement that the way the police are handling things enables the homeless and this becomes an invitation for other homeless to come to Venice. People said “Venice has reached a limit.”

One man, who had been in Venice for little over a year and use to live in Texas where apparently one can carry a gun, asked how he could feel safe walking on the beach when the homeless carry weapons. The officer who addressed the question explained that he should and all should try to “avoid confrontations … rely on the police.”

Jim Murez, activist who runs the Friday Farmer’s Market, said the chemicals used to clean the sidewalks after an encampment removal, have killed the trees.

Everyone was concerned about the bicycle chop shops homeless set up in plane site. Officers said register your bikes. “When we find a bike, we check the registration,” one officer said. Register the bike. We are also confiscating some of the bikes in encampments.

Captain Roberts said they are going to put GPS on some bikes and follow them to catch bike stealers.

“Our plan is to listen and take action,” said Captain Roberts.

Many Venetians, who were critical, now see an opportunity to sit down and explain their dilemmas with hope that someone is listening with an ear for change. This was accomplished at the Town Hall.

 

Ryavec Asks Moore to Retain Roberts as Head of Pacific Division

On the day of the first Police Town Hall in Venice, Mark Ryavec, president of the Venice Stakeholders Association, writes an open letter to Chief of Police Michel Moore and asks that Captain James Roberts remain at his post as Captain of the Los Angeles Police Department, Pacific Division.

Venice Update also strongly endorses the retention of Captain James Roberts in his position at the LAPD, Pacific Division.

Dear Chief Moore,

I am writing on behalf of many Venice residents to ask that you retain Patrol Commander James Roberts in Pacific Division.

I have lived in Venice for over 30 years and been president of Venice Stakeholders Association for ten years.

In all of my time working on public safety issues in Venice and Pacific Division I have never seen as dedicated, responsive, creative, effective and respectful a commander as Captain Roberts.

He has worked tirelessly, and collaboratively, with residents and his Pacific Division team to address the unique public safety issues of our community.

With only a year and a half on duty here, he has come up to speed quickly on the underlying circumstances we face: one of the largest visitor-serving destinations in the U.S. intersecting a highly problematic and service-resistant transient population, along with an open, illicit drug market and bicycle theft operations, combined with recent court decisions which severely limit the LAPD’s enforcement options.

Despite these challenges, he and his officers, along with Commander James Setzer, have made more progress in addressing crime and restoring safety for the public at Venice Beach and in the community, in a short period, than any other commander has accomplished since Jon Peters.

Captain Roberts is now starting to implement several new initiatives, including returning to pairing social service workers with LAPD officers in a combined outreach to the large homeless population. He should be given the opportunity to follow-through on this and other plans to address our chronic crime, homelessness and safety issues.

Please do not squander all the relationships and learning the good captain has acquired in his tenure here.

Keep Captain Roberts on the job in Venice!

Awesome … Just Awesome! Venice Salutes Chief Moore, LAPD

Chief of Police Michel Moore said he would start policing the beach again when he was at the Venice Town Hall last Wednesday night.

Friday night between 5:15 and 5:30, nine to ten LAPD beach cruisers entered the Boardwalk from Windward with lights flashing and slowly and quietly parted the crowd as they proceeded to Navy St.

This was their way of stating “We are back!” Beach cruisers have not been allowed on the sand since last year when a man was run over but not injured. It just made Chief Beck and then Chief Moore extra cautious. As a consequence the beach has been the choice for the homeless.

At Navy all the cruisers entered the sand in tandem, drove south toward Windward, and then peeled off to warn people with belongings and tents on the sand that as of midnight tonight (19 October) they would be cited. Many started to move on. Any belongings left unattended would be removed.

The beach for legal reasons is a City park from the east side of the Boardwalk to the ocean, from Santa Monica border to the Marina del Rey jetty.

This is the official letter from Captain James Roberts, Commanding Officer, LAPD Pacific Patrol Division.

Venice Community & stakeholders,
 
The Chief of Police has voiced his support and direction for the Pacific Area Command to increase beach patrols, and redouble our efforts to enforce beach and boardwalk quality of life ordinances; effective immediately.  Chief Moore and the West bureau command staff have absolutely heard your concerns, and responded emphatically. 
 
If you are on the Boardwalk or beach this afternoon, you will see an increase in officers on the sand proactively educating the public, and conducting enforcement activity as appropriate.  And as always, the officers will simultaneously be offering outreach and support resources to those in need.  We invite all local service providers to connect with Pacific Area or come out to the beach, so officers have a direct referral source if someone asks for help during our outreach. This activity will continue around the clock,  until further. 

 

Was the Town Hall Panel– Garcetti, Councilman, Chief — Listening to the Venetians

By Reta Moser

When Chief of Police Michel Moore during the Town Hall said he would enforce the beach curfew and starting tonight, there was a silent sigh of relief … maybe disbelief. Many felt someone had finally heard Venice.

The panel, consisting of the Mayor Eric Garcetti, Councilman Mike Bonin, and Chief of Police Michel Moore heard many a complaint that Venice was lawless, would continue, and that with the bridge housing would get even worse.

Venice homeless make up is different — 90 percent transient; 75 percent addicted
What the Mayor and Councilman do not understand and which many residents tried to explain is that the “make up of the homeless in Venice” is not homeless from Venice, or perhaps, like other areas. The makeup of homeless in Venice are from all over the United States (and many from out of the country), not Venice, and 75 percent of them are addicted to either drugs or alcohol. They are having a party in Venice.

The 75 percent figure was given by both former police Captain Nicole Alberca and Regina Weller, former head of the Venice Homeless Task Force. They further stated the transient population in Venice was 90 percent. One of them said 95 percent and the present Captain James Roberts said these figures were “about right.”

“We own the streets.”
These people are having a blast in Venice as owners and tenants stand aghast, unable to do anything. As the homeless say: “We own the streets.” They wave their cups for money the minute you enter Venice at the Marina freeway and Washington Blvd. The law for solicitation at highway entrances has been upheld to be enforceable. Lincoln is route 1; Marina Freeway is state route 90 at the intersection of route 1. Uphold it!

This street has been trying to get this encampment removed. They violate the ADA rules for access and one can’t even park.

sanders

Crime is up in Venice. Car breakins, tire slashing, stealing, bike theft, panhandling, defecating on public and private property, etc, are not reported. Where do addicts get their money for drugs or alcohol.

Venetians are compassionate and giving
Councilman Mike Bonin continues to talk of two homeless people found in Venice who have been placed, as if Venetians didn’t care. Venice is sympathetic to the homeless. They have donated thousands of dollars to help the homeless. Regina Weller operated on private donations from Venetians. In the over 400 she found permanent housing for, she never placed one who was from Venice although she only operated in Venice.

She insisted that alcoholics and drug addicted people go thru rehab before placement, otherwise they would hinder those in houses where they would be placed and the probability of them leaving housing was very high. Many addicted to alcohol or drugs do not want to be housed. Sometimes they have a moment of wanting to leave their friends, but in most cases, it isn’t lasting.

Bridge for Venice, placing, not placing addicted
They Mayor mentioned that they would not be placing the addicted and then changed his statement to say they would be placed in bridge homes if the City decided to change the rules for Venice. Venice would have rules peculiar to Venice he said. Certainly, one would think they would place those most wanting help first.

Yes, Venice has homeless criminals
The City claims that some of the homeless are not former criminals in Venice. This reporter met one man from Columbus, Ohio who had served 27 years. He had a friend he was talking with who said he was a former criminal too and he couldn’t get a job. They volunteered this information. This reporter would never have asked. So yes, some of the homeless are former criminals. How many?

City studying alternatives; Venetians have alternatives
The Mayor mentioned they were exploring other alternatives. Brian Ulf, chairman  of  board for SHARE!, who helps the homeless thru SHARE! said he had 2000 places available and was waiting for funding to place Venice homeless. It costs time and money to set these people up with their social security numbers, disabilities, and get the money for the rent until the individual’s money starts. This is cheap and fast compared to the bridge concept. SHARE! does take the addicted.

Heidi Roberts and her husband John Betz, both from Venice, have purchased several four-bedroom duplexes, in various areas. They now house 68 former homeless. The team of Roberts and Betz started this year and opened their first place in April that housed 16. They plan to continue doing such. This is so much cheaper, faster than is the bridge concept.

So is the Mayor disingenuous when he says “we are investigating alternatives.” So is the 2.4 million for the El Pueblo, which houses 45, the wrong approach? Did the Mayor, Councilman, Chief understand that the makeup of the homeless in Venice is different than other areas. Would a bridge home be appropriate for Venice? Would it be overkill for Venice? Why not fund Brian Ulf. He will find housing for those wanting housing? Why not do as Roberts and Betz and be a provider that way?

Town Hall was Very Interesting

By Darryl DuFay

Very interesting Town Hall meeting on the MTA “Bridge Home” proposed project.

You arrived at the Westminster School to see dozens of LAPD all over. Of course they didn’t tell you that the parking entrance was going to be on Main St. Something that hadn’t been done before. Off the parking lot they were not prepared to open at 5:00 for a 6:00 start. No surprise there. They had over 1,000 RSVPs. Seating for 400 inside and 200 outside, with sound only. Slowly but steadily filled up. News cameras all around but mostly on the east wall.

It was raucous but in a “measure” way. From the front row where I sat the back and forth waves of noise for and especially against were refreshing from previous meetings where they were only for. First the “FOR” and then a ROARING “NO” that shook the room.

Alexandra “Alex” Cohen was the “moderator.” Her involvement consisted mostly of lining up people to talk. Councilman Mike Bonin, Mayor Eric Garcetti, and LA Chief of Police Michael Moore were present. I don’t believe Moore was scheduled to be part of the extended discussion. He was not named in the official announcement. It was set up for two and Moore grabbed a chair and moved it over to make a trio. Moore’s presence was a welcomed reminder of the overwhelming response this project has aroused. He significantly advanced the Town Hall. Many Fight Back, Venice t-shirts and white shirts

The Chief of Police was impressive. Below is yesterday’s LA Times article on him.

Moore was getting a real education from the audience about what is going on in Venice especially along the beach and Ocean Front Walk. He was as he should be protective of his officers but as the audience continuing to call out their experiences he took increasing interest and concern. Even to acknowledging that he is very serious about closing the beaches from midnight to 6:00 a.m.

I also sensed about 7:45 that Bonin was seeing himself as become more superfluous to the discussion. He chimed in I believe about the use of SHARE as a viable methods of quickly housing the homeless. Garcetti has raised this method for more quickly addressing the homeless problem. It ended after 9:00.

There are enough unanswered questions about the MTA proposal to drill down and get some answers. Chief Moore can be a great asset in demanding information and holding the MTA et al and Bonin’s and Garcetti’s offices to provide our Venice community with more vital and informative discussions than we have had so far.

Bonin and Garcetti are convinced or have convinced themselves that Venice’s homeless are locals. That thought allows them to make comments that the MTA “Bridge Home” will be able to recycle enough people through so Venice’s homeless problem disappears. When, it fact we will see a rise in transient homeless arriving at the “promised land” — VENICE.

http://enewspaper.latimes.com/infinity/article_share.aspx?guid=58aab6a5-d0a3-4552-bb07-0b1cd276a3eb