Venice Stakeholders: City Policy Results in “Skid Row” Conditions in Venice Beach

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From The Venice Stakeholders Association:

The Venice Stakeholders Association today released a letter to City officials which documents that the City of Los Angeles is engaged in blatantly unequal enforcement of city park ordinances, which has resulted in “Skid Row” type conditions along the once-popular Venice Boardwalk.

VSA

The letter, prepared by VSA’s attorney John Henning, shows the pristine condition of City Hall Park, once the site of a large “Occupy LA” encampment, and the LAPD Headquarters Park in Downtown Los Angeles.  It compares these parks to the Venice Beach Recreation Area, where  sleeping bags, bedrolls, tents, personal possessions and trash are routinely strewn along the Boardwalk area in violation of numerous City ordinances including a strict new ban on the use of camping equipment in City parks.

“L.A.’s politicians spent over a million dollars to restore their City Hall Park and are enforcing every conceivable law to keep it attractive,” VSA president Mark Ryavec said,”but along Venice Boardwalk, the Department of Recreation and Parks and the LAPD allow campers to violate a slew of city laws against using camping equipment and storing personal property on park land and City rights-of-way.”

According to Ryavec, the City’s loose enforcement policy has allowed squatters to effectively take over the Boardwalk area from residents and visitors, many of whom do not feel safe using the park.

The VSA letter notes that under the new ban on camping in City parks, “occupying a sleeping bag or bedroll within a City park for any purpose is forbidden by City ordinance. Specifically, the phrase “for any purpose” is unequivocal and strips the ordinance of any requirement that a violator have the specific intent to use the sleeping bag or bedroll for lodging or living accommodation as opposed to recreation.”

Yet, says Ryavec, Recreation and Parks staff and the LAPD allow the widespread use of sleeping bags and other camping equipment within the park on a daily basis.

“These conditions are alarming to residents and are clearly having a negative effect on visitors, who frequently complain about being harassed on the Boardwalk and are fearful of bringing small children to the beach in this part of Venice,” Ryavec explained.

The  VSA letter notes that a lawsuit could be brought against the City under the California Civil Code to abate the public nuisance the City is  enabling at Venice Beach.

Attachment: Letter from John Henning to Mayor Villaraigosa, et al.

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