There are three proposals on the table for the senior center that now sits derelict at the Westminster Dog Park at 1234 Pacific Ave., Venice.
One is to create an eclectic park for local kids. Carl Lambert of the Venice Chamber of Commerce says this plan is beautiful, but it will be expensive.
Another proposal put forward by Jill Prescott, President of the Venice Historical Society, is to turn the building into a mixed use community center that would include a Venice museum.
It is the third suggestion that has a group of locals up in arms, keen to shut it down.
Steve Clair of the Venice Housing Corporation, who has done countless hours of good work helping the local homeless community, has put forward a proposal to establish a storage space to be used by the local Venice homeless to keep their belongings safe.
The problem is, many locals are against the idea of attracting large groups of homeless, who ofter suffer addiction and mental illness, to an area so close to a school, Westminster Elementary, and so near the popular dog park.
“This is not a good place for it. The school is right there. Many people walk their dogs at the dog park,” says Lambert.
Last year increased violence amongst the homeless community saw many Venice locals uncomfortable with the growing groups of ‘travelers’ who gathered in groups on the Boardwalk, and in side streets off Speedway.
While there is no doubt that helping the Venice homeless is something the Venice Community needs to support, the question is, does providing storage do anything to help get homeless off the streets, or does it continue to enable homelessness?
Others would argue that until Los Angeles is able to address the housing crisis many of those who are homeless are so because there is simply not the housing stock available and until there is, stop-gap measures, like providing storage space is a necessary option.
However, Lambert thinks more story in Venice is unnecessary as there are already 2 storage spaces along the Boardwalk.
One thing is for sure, the decision as to whether or not the unused senior center is the best used for homeless storage is a matter the entire Venice Community should weigh in on.
Already a petition against the proposal has been set up on change.org and many locals are getting behind it hoping to save the Westminster Dog Park for the overall community, not just those who are homeless.