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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Westminster Senior Center Not to be Used for Homeless Storage

Venice Kids Count is settling their suit with the City. The City will not be converting the Westminster Senior Center into a storage facility for homeless.

Spokesman for Venice Kids Count said “The agreement outlines that should the City decide to reverse their direction and move forward to convert the Senior Center, they will notify us in writing 60 days prior and we can then immediately revive our legal effort. We have agreed to essentially put our lawsuit on hold.”

Councilman Mike Bonin has announced to the group that the Senior Center will be used for recovery meetings hosted by the Venice Recovery Center. Venice Recovery Center was on Lincoln Blvd.

Spokesman for Venice Kids Count stated that the group hopes the Westminster Senior Center will be used by community organizations, such as arts groups, civic groups, hobby groups, senior groups, etc so the park will be a positive presence in Venice.

Betz Upset with Tenters and Vagrants in Park and LAPD Does Not Move Them

John Betz is once again beset by the flagrant oversight of the Los Angeles Police Department to keep the Westminster Park/Westminster Senior Center free of “tenters” and vagrants and also the area bordering Westminster Elementary School.

The law states that one cannot be in the park after closing, cannot sleep in the park, cannot erect a tent in the park. Yet.

Councilman Gilbert Gedillo of the LA City Homeless and Poverty, made the motion that Homeless encampments adjacent to school facilities continue to interfere with the City’s mission of safe and clean routes to schools. State of California Penal Code Section 626 defines ‘Safe School Zones’ as property within 1500 feet of a school. Yet.

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“For the past two weeks two “traveling” lads, who I would estimate are about 28 years old, are living out of their car, and have been sleeping in a tent in the Westminster Park,” wrote John Betz. “And it is on Main Street right across the streets from the Westminster School. It is easy to find – right under the “School Crosswalk” sign meant to keep the school children safe while crossing the street (oh, the irony).

“I have called LAPD about 5 or 6 times to report this, usually at about 4 am when enforcement should be easy because no one is supposed to be sleeping in the park at night, but no results–apparently nothing meaningful has been done.

“I don’t understand why our community has to put up with this. The winter shelter is open and there were plenty of beds available last night, 17 Dec, (80 open beds at the shelter and 21 openings at S.H.A.R.E.). So why is this going on for so long? Why will the police not do anything? It is illegal to camp in the park and these people have a place to go. And now, because of LAPD inaction the problem in our park is growing, as it always does when the City turns a blind eye.

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“This is what one mom found recently walking her child to school. The fence is the elementary school fence.”

LA Times Summarizes Venice Homeless Since Westminster Town Hall

LA Times has an article touching the Venice homeless situation since the town hall meet regarding Westminster Senior Center back in September. See LA Times Article.

Really? — Mommy, Daddy Explain This

rabbits
(Photo by Heidi Roberts.)

Motor home parked at Westminster Senior Center across the street from Westminster Elementary School that teaches 400 children a day under age 11. This picture is in full view of any child walking to and fro the school.

The oversize vehicle signs have been ordered and supposedly have had a rush put on them.

Taylor Bazley on 26 August wrote: “Westminster and the North side of Main bordering the park have been petitioned for and signs are in the process. We have made it as abundantly clear as possible to the DOT that the signs along Westminster are the highest priority signs for our constituents so we are hopeful they will be erected soon.”

“Venice Kids Count” Filed Suit Against the City of Los Angeles Today

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Photo of Westminster Senior Center taken minutes after hearing of the suit Venice Kids Count vs. City of Los Angeles.

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Shows proximity of the school across the street from the center.

“Venice Kids Count,” a broad coalition of neighbors, parents, and residents in Venice, filed suit against the City of Los Angeles today to stop the city from illegally converting the Westminster Senior Center into a storage and services hub for the homeless.

The center is in a public park that is bordered by Westminster Elementary School, where more than 400 children attend school, and is just one block from a pre-school. It is also home to the Westminster Dog Park, which has been a popular gathering place for local families for decades. The city is planning to open the storage facility in the senior center on November 1.

A Court Order, issued in 1950 by the Superior Court of California, expressly prohibits this kind of conversion from a public park to a storage and services hub for the homeless. The Court Order states that the park should be used for “public playground and recreation purposes” only.

The conversion is part of a broader plan proposed by Councilperson Mike Bonin (CD-11) to install an extensive network of resources for the homeless in Venice over the next several months, including new housing projects on Venice Boulevard and Thatcher Avenue, 24-hour restroom and shower facilities on the Venice Boardwalk, designated overnight parking with restroom access, and mobile shower facilities.

The Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) voted against repurposing the senior center and proposed a mobile storage and outreach solution modeled on successful programs in other cities to address the needs of the homeless and community concerns regarding school safety and the preservation of recreational resources.

“The VNC Homeless Committee created and vetted an innovative mobile storage program that brings the storage solution – complete with street outreach teams – directly to the homeless, when and where they need it,” said Heidi Roberts. “It’s a great program that can be scaled to address the needs of the city’s homeless and expanded beyond Venice in a cost-effective and efficient way. It’s a win-win.”

However, Bonin declined to delay conversion of the senior center to consider the VNC’s proposal.

“While we understand the City of Los Angeles needs to do something to help the homeless, importing hundreds of homeless to this community, right next to a school where hundreds of children spend every day is a careless choice,” said Katrina Glusac, a parent of a Westminster Elementary student and member of ‘Venice Kids Count’. “Especially since there are options that would provide the services without sacrificing the safety of our kids.”

Go to http://www.venicekidscount.org/ for contact information, facts, background, and opportunity to donate.

Mike’s Plan for “Ending Homelessness in Venice” on Prop HHH Brochure

Mikeplan
Councilman Mike Bonin presented his plan to End Homelessness in Venice, 29 March of this year. It has since been dubbed “Mike’s Plan” and the Councilman now refers to it as Mike’s Plan.

 

Councilman Mike Bonin has a mailer coming out in support of Proposition HHH, which would according to the brochure, “authorize $1.2 billion in bonds to build permanent supportive housing and affordable housing for people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.” This money would be used to pay for the projects proposed in Venice.

Note: The Councilman asked if Update would post his brochure. Update posts flyers but this brochure-flyer could not be duplicated. Also Update does not normally print Proposition information but since this pertains to Venice and the homeless, the facts and figures have been reproduced here but not the photos.

Data from 2016 LAHSA Homeless Count

In Los Angeles there are 28,464 homeless individuals, of which 21,338 are not sheltered. Females make up 33 percent, males 67 percent

In Venice there are 758 homeless individuals, 72 family members. Females make up 19 percent, males 81 percent.

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This is a breakdown of the ages.

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This is a breakdown of the circumstances.

 

Mike’s Plan

BUILD AFFORDABLE HOUSING

MTA BUS YARD

Mike and Supervisor Sheila Kuehl have proposed that the former bus yard located at 100 Sunset Avenue in Venice be turned into housing, with a significant portion dedicated to affordable housing for people making at most 60% of the area median income (about $33,000 a year).

CITY PROPERTIES

The City is asking affordable housing developers to evaluate every city-owned property that is surplus, vacant or under-used and consider proposing housing there (alternatively, the city may sell the properties and use the funds to build housing elsewhere). The first round of properties under consideration are: a former Fire Station in Westchester, a former Animal Shelter in West LA, the former Street Services Yard in the Oxford Triangle, and the parking lot on the Venice Boulevard median.

 

PROVIDE HOMELESS HOUSING

WESTSIDE HOUSING

The neighboring community of Del Rey has recently welcomed a series of housing projects for the home- less, including: PATH Villas (23 units), Gateway Apartments (21 units) and Del Rey Square (12 units).

DELL/PACIFIC LOT

Mike is proposing building housing for the homeless at the surface parking lot located between North and South Venice Boulevard and Pacific and Dell avenues.

VENICE FORWARD

Venice Forward is a new collaborative created to more rapidly move people into housing. The cooperative venture between government, social service agencies, businesses, and residents embraces the “Housing First” philosophy, which rapidly moves people into housing and supportive services.

EXPANDING RAPID REHOUSING

The City is expanding its funding for Rapid Rehousing – rental subsidies and services. RRH is the most effective and efficient intervention for more than 50 percent of homeless individuals and families. RRH is also more cost effective than other options.

 

EXPANDED SERVICES AND OUTREACH

TREATING MENTAL ILLNESS

The County Department of Mental Health has reopened Exodus Recovery Treatment facility, and now offers Urgent Care beds for those in a mental health crisis. Additionally, the County funds and St. Joseph Center operates the Venice Chronic Homeless Assertive Case Management Team — an intensive Mental Health unit that focuses on treating the most vulnerable individuals on the street.

HEALTHCARE

Integrated mobile health teams now provide street-based health and mental health treatment to chronically homeless and severely mentally ill individuals in Venice. Integrated teams (supported by the County, City, and local nonprofits) reduce the number of costly emergency room visits by people living on the street.

TRAINING FIRST RESPONDERS

LAPD Officers are now being trained on how to best respond when interacting with people who might have a mental illness. Special teams include officers and mental health professionals who help assess people with mental illness in the field. LAPD and Bureau of Sanitation officials are now also working with homeless outreach specialists to provide shelter and housing to people living on the streets.

211 AND VENICE FORWARD

People concerned about homeless neighbors or people in crisis living on the streets can log on to www. VeniceForward.org to ask a service provider to respond. Residents may also call the County’s 211 line, and after selecting their language, dial 7 to be connected to a community resource adviser.

OUTREACH TEAMS

The City recently added additional Homeless Emergency Response Teams to offer services to people who are homeless or at risk of experiencing homelessness, including direct emergency services and transportation, shelter, and outreach services to homeless encampment dwellers. Mike is supporting the work of LAPD Chaplains Regina and Steve Weller with a $62,000 grant. The Wellers have placed hundreds of homeless people in housing, focusing on family reunification and shared housing placements.

 

STREET STRATEGY

STORAGE

In order to keep our streets and sidewalks clean, the courts have made it clear that the City needs to offer people who are homeless alternatives to leaving their belongings on sidewalks. The City is asking Chrysalis to operate a voluntary storage program at the former Westminster Senior Center on Pacific Avenue.

SHOWERS

Lava Mae, a San Francisco-based non-profit that provides mobile showers for people who are homeless, is planning to launch a pilot program in Venice this fall.

BATHROOMS

The Department of Recreation & Parks will be opening some of the beach restrooms 24 hours per day to allow tourists and people who are homeless an alternative to defecating on public and private property.

SAFE PARKING

The City Council is considering legislation to create a program similar to one operated in Santa Barbara, allowing small numbers of people who live in their cars or RVs to park safely in non-profit, church or city parking lots overnight, where they have access to restrooms and can be connected with service providers.

 

PRESERVE AFFORDABLE HOUSING

 

MELLO ACT REFORM

Mike has proposed legislation to reform and strengthen the Mello Act, the law that protects affordable housing in the coastal zone, making it harder for developers to reduce or eliminate affordable housing in Venice.

SHORT-TERM RENTAL REGULATIONS

Mike has proposed legislation governing short-term rentals, preventing rogue operators from buying entire buildings, removing rental and affordable units from the market and converting apartments into permanent short-term rentals.

 

Transient With Knife Apprehended Near Westminster Senior Center

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Pacific
(Photos courtesy of John Betz.)
Part of Pacific shutdown because of hunt for transient with a knife.

By John Betz

Last night (21 September) a transient (according to police on the scene) broke into a house (between Pacific and Speedway) about one block from the Westminster Senior Center/Park. According to the police scanner, he was armed with a knife. The police chased him for about two hours in a several-block area and then shot him with beanbag guns. The entire block of Pacific near Brooks was shut down at 4 am and remained such until past 9 am.

“Transients aren’t really a threat to kids” theory. News Flash! Never mind kids! They are a threat to adults, they are a threat to cops! There was a lot of chatter going around social media at 3 am this morning from people in our neighborhood. My kid was locked safely away in his house and he was scared. So was my wife. If you think it is OK to situate a storage center for transients right next to a school and in a residential area and there won’t be any problem, then YOU ARE INSANE.

Remember just a week ago the officials who talked at Westminster school regarding the storage facility designated by Councilman Mike Bonin for Westminster Senior Center. They all said that having a storage facility for homeless next to a school and in a residential area would not be a problem. One said there is no problem having the homeless mix with the school children.

When is a Plan Not a Plan? — Westminster Senior Center/Homeless Storage Facility

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Westminsten Senior Center being redone for? — Storage of Homeless Stuff

By Darryl DuFay

• WHEN YOU ARE DISCUSSING HOMELESS STORAGE AT THE FORMER WESTMINISTER SENIOR CITIZENS CENTER ON PACIFIC AVE, WHICH IS IN A RESIDENTIAL AREA AND ACROSS FROM AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

• WHEN THE LEGALITY OF THE USE OF THE SITE FOR STORAGE HAS BEEN CHALLENGED

• WHEN THE FUNDS FOR THE PROJECT ARE IN QUESTION AND NOT AVAILABLE

• WHEN THERE ARE NO DRAWINGS, NO COSTS, AND NO TIMELINES

• WHEN THE CONTRACT FOR THE OPERATOR “CHRYSALIS” IS NOT AVAILABLE

• WHEN THERE HAS BEEN NO COMMUNITY IMPACT REPORT OR FEASIBILTY STUDY

• WHEN THE FINDINGS OF LOS ANGELES HOMELESS SERVICES AUTHORIY (LAHSA) DECLARES THAT THE VENICE SITE DOES NOT HAVE ADDITIONAL SPACE TO CO-LOCATE OTHER SERVICES OTHER THAN BINS

• WHEN WORK PROCEEDS ON THE PROJECT UNDER THE GUISE OF MAINTENANCE BY THE DEPARTMENT OF RECREATION AND PARKS

• WHEN AN ALTERNATIVE PLAN FOR MOBILE STORAGE HAS BEEN PRESENTED

• WHEN FRIVOLOUS AND CHAOTIC MEETINGS ARE HELD BY REC AND PARKS

• WHEN THE CITY DOESN’T FOLLOW THE “COMPREHENSIVE HOMELESS STRATEGIES” THAT ARE SUPPOSED TO BE GUIDING THE CITY OF LOS ANGELES:

6A – Facilities Co-Locate Services Within Homeless Storage Facilities & Create New Facilities
6D – Facilities Identify Public Land for Homeless Facilities
6E – Facilities Homeless Navigation Centers
7D – Housing Using Public Land for Affordable and Homeless Housing

• WHEN WE HAVE NOT RECEIVED THE CITY ADMINISTRATOR OFFICER’S (CAO) REQUIRED EVALUATIONS FOR CITY OWNED PROPERTIES. THIS IS A COMMON TOOL ESTABLISHED BY THE CAO AND LAHSA TO STANDARDIZE THE SITE EVALUATION PROCESS:

1. Sites are identified as potential storage/service candidates by Council motion
2. CAO conducts an initial review to determine site appropriateness
3. If further review is appropriate, CAO conducts a site visit with LAHSA, BOE, Council Office and any other stakeholders
4. Bureau of Engineering (BOE) performs initial cost estimate and submits to the CAO
5. CAO inputs certain information into scorecards and submits to LAHSA
6. LAHSA reviews the site for homeless-issues specific analysis and sends the scorecard back to the CAO
7. CAO finalizes the scorecard and distributes the scorecard back to the Council offices; and Council offices determine next steps based upon CAO and LAHSA analysis.

Westminster Senior Center Meet Thursday

By Darryl DuFay

Note: This is DuFay’s reporting of the Westminster Senior Center meet held 15 September at the Westminster Elementary School.

EVALUATION_edited-1

Westminster Senior Center “Discussion” Was Chaos, “Feel Heard”

Westminster

Two distinct groups with different goals got together Thursday night at the Westminster elementary school to: 1) receive input from residents; 2)hear about the Westminster Senior Center “planned” conversion to a homeless storage facility from proper sources. Chaos ensued.

Several city, county organization representatives got together to get input from residents regarding the Westminster Senior Center homeless “stuff” storage. These representatives were hoping for details of what residents sought for things, such as security, perhaps operating hours, etc. The plan was that all would get in little groups and discuss these issues. A representative would write requests down. That never happened. Someone did write on a tablet.

Residents got together to hear what several city, county organizations were doing with the Westminster Senior Center. They had been told by Councilman Mike Bonin he wanted it for storage; construction work was/is a fact. They had piece-meal data. There was a city permit for upgrading Westminster Senior Center. Yet they were told it would be a storage facility. There was no record of “change of use” hearing or approval?” Where is the coastal commission on this? They really wanted the whole story. Residents wanted to know.

According to Taylor Bazley, Venice representative from Councilman Mike Bonin’s office, there will be two more meetings– 6 and 27 October, Westminster Elementary School, 6 to 8 pm. Representatives present from the City and County were: Councilman Mike Bonin’s office, City Attorney, Recreation and Parks, Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.

DeDe Audet and Jim Murez both asked where was the plan. They both stated that one does not propose a project without a plan. There was no plan that was made public.

David Ewing said it all appeared to be a “proactive attempt to conceal.”

Heidi Roberts had this to say the next day. “They think we’re pre-schoolers. Last night’s attempt at managing process with City meeting facilitators was embarrassing for them and insulting to us. The representatives of the City had absolutely NO INTENTION OF ANSWERING QUESTIONS. They wanted us to “feel heard” and wrote our concerns in color markers so we believed they had listened. This meeting was not about dialog nor was it about information, it was yet another box Bonin can check off on his path to a ribbon cutting ceremony and photo-op. Again, sneaky.

“Our Council Office is incredibly sneaky and is surreptitiously trying to get this conversion through in the fastest and quietest way possible. Permits were pulled (and applied for) just three days ago, despite work having started weeks ago. In the permit, they claim that it is work to update a “Senior’s Center” and they specifically claim that there will be NO CHANGE OF USE. Though Parks & Recreation applied for the permit, it was clear that it is happening at the bequest of Councilman Bonins’ office. Neither parents at the Westminster School nor LAUSD have been apprised of the plans that will undoubtedly affect them so profoundly. And the community has been bullied into his dictatorial decision with no opportunity to share it concerns with a representative who’s interested in listening and actually hearing them.

“LAHSA and Recreation and Parks are operating under the assumption that the park and school area are already overwhelmed with homeless individuals. They kept saying, “they’re already here.” What they fail to understand is that while the park occasionally has a homeless presence, it is not common and regular. By converting the Senior Center, they are essentially placing a magnet there, encouraging homeless individuals to regularly travel there from where they are now. Since the LAHSA/City reps are so unfamiliar with the reality of our current situation in Venice (the rep from the City Attorney’s office kept calling it Westchester), the only way they could have this understanding is because the Council Office has told them this. Again, sneaky.”