October 17, 2021 #1 Local News, Forum, Information and Event Source for Venice Beach, California.

Venice Stakeholders Files Appeal in Public Nuisance Lawsuit for Conditions Along Venice Beach

OPINION

8:02pm

By Mark Ryavec

Last week our organization filed an appeal in our lawsuit against the City and County of Los Angeles for their maintenance of a public nuisance and dangerous conditions along the Venice Boardwalk and beach. In the suit the Stakeholders contend that these conditions deprive residents of the quiet and safe enjoyment of their homes and the Venice community of the safe use of the Venice Beach Recreation Area.

Judge Gregory Alarcon had sided late last year with the VSA against the City’s and County’s motions for summary judgment. However, when the City and County appealed his decision our organization did not file a legal brief at the appellate level due to the advice of several attorneys that such requests for a “writ of mandate” are rarely granted. Unfortunately for Venice residents, this was one of the rare cases in which that maxim did not hold up.

At that point in January we reached out to the City and asked Councilman Bonin if he would meet with us on behalf of the City to address our concerns about noise, crime, burglaries, trespass and the inability of the public and residents to enjoy many areas along the Boardwalk that have been taken over perma- nently by transients and vendors.

Mr. Bonin did not reply to our invitation.

This is the opposite tack from that taken by his predecessor, the late Councilman Bill Rosendahl. When we first considered filing a

public nuisance lawsuit several years ago, Bill immediately asked then-City Attorney Car- men Trutanich to meet with us to see if the City could address our concerns. We had sev- eral discussions with the City Attorney’s staff and the result was that the City Attorney led several City departments, along with the council office (where Bonin was the chief deputy), in an effort to improve public safety along the Boardwalk. This included the installation of new signage that banned camping along the Boardwalk and beach and high- lighted the 12 to 5am beach curfew. This was followed by renewed enforcement of the camping ban and beach curfew by the LAPD as long as Rosendahl was in office.

When it became evident in 2014 under the new regime of Bonin, Mayor Eric Garcetti, City Attorney Mike Feuer and Supervisor Sheila Kuehl that the City and County were not enforcing “no camping” and “no storage” laws and noise limits in the Venice Beach Recreation Area, we met with City Attorney Feuer. In the course of the meeting we told him that we were contemplating a public nui- sance lawsuit. Unlike Mr. Trutanich and Bill Rosendahl, who headed off our lawsuit by ramping up City enforcement, Feuer said, “Well, it’s your right to sue.” So, we did.

Today the contrast between the City’s and County’s lack of enforcement along the Boardwalk compared to other parks continues to be striking. As we pointed out three years ago, many areas of Venice Beach are covered by tons of private possessions of both vendors and transients, while the park next to City Hall DTLA is kept in pristine condition. The same laws that govern the City Hall park govern Venice Beach, and were employed to remove Occupy LA from the front of City Hall a few years ago. But under the current authorities, little is enforced here in Venice. In fact, residents who live along the Board- walk and walk streets have told me that the situation has deteriorated in recent months.

The City has recently amended two ordinances, LAMC 63.44, which now significantly limits what can be taken into a park in the day and requires that every item leave a park at night, and LAMC 56.11, which reduces what can be stored on a sidewalk, gives the City lat- itude to remove bulky items, and shortens the notice period. However, there has been no move to enforce these new laws in Venice, a failure I attribute to Mr. Bonin. If there had been, this might address some of the issues raised in our suit, and lead to fruitful negotia- tions with the City. But again, Bonin has not returned our call.

The law under which we brought the case is the same law the City Attorney uses to close down crack dens and other buildings that gen- erate crime and activities which are a nuisance to neighbors. Certainly the Boardwalk, as an elongated drug emporium and crime genera- tor, is a public nuisance the City Attorney would move to close if it was in private hands. The City’s and County’s failure to enforce their own laws against drug sales, camping, tents, noise, public inebriation, defecation and urination, and storage of private property on park land all contribute to the erosion of residents safety and quiet enjoyment of their homes.

In their appeal of Judge Alarcon’s initial decision to dismiss their motions for summary judgment, the City and County did not dis- pute that their lack of enforcement caused the public nuisances that residents constantly experience. Instead, they pointed to munici- palities’ “prosecutorial discretion;” i.e., their right to decide what laws to enforce and when to enforce them. Without a legal brief from us rebutting this claim, the Appellate Court gave Judge Alarcon a choice of letting us belatedly submit a legal brief opposing the City and County’s position or dismissing the case. He chose the latter, which set up our right to appeal the entire case to the Appeals Court, known as a “de novo” review. Instead of just appealing the narrow issue of prosecutorial discretion we will be trying the entire case before the Appeals Court.

The case will probably be heard late this summer. Donations to the legal fund are welcome and can be sent to the VSA at 1615 Andalusia Avenue, Venice, CA 90291.

Mark Ryavec is president of the non-profit Venice Stakeholders Association.

Columnist Mark Ryavec.
Columnist Mark Ryavec.
Tags: in Opinion
Related Posts

Opinion: How Low Can You Go?

September 20, 2021

September 20, 2021

By Nick Antonicello Instead of discussing the issues people really want to talk about like Councilman Mike Bonin’s miserable record...

Opinion: Recall Or Reelection: That’s The Choice For D-town Voters When It Comes To Incumbent Mike Bonin

September 16, 2021

September 16, 2021

By Nick Antonicello There was good news for embattled incumbent Councilman Mike Bonin yesterday in that Governor Gavin Newsom not...

Opinion: Ten Reasons Why the Venice Boardwalk Got Cleaned Up

September 15, 2021

September 15, 2021

By Nick Antonicello After years of neglect and outright incompetence when it came to the maintenance of Venice’s Oceanfront Walk...

Editorial: Unprofessionalism and Racial Insensitivity at Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. Leaves a Lot to Be Desired

September 10, 2021

September 10, 2021

By Mirror Media Group Editorial Staff A recent incident in which an executive at Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. flippantly used the events...

Opinion: The Venice “Scooter Scourge” Worse Than Ever Before!

September 2, 2021

September 2, 2021

By Nick Antonicello One needs to be consistent in what outrages one and while many are now somewhat relieved that...

Opinion: Rampant Homelessness is at the Source of Rising Crime at Venice Beach

August 4, 2021

August 4, 2021

By Nick Antonicello There are those who condone and enable homelessness here in Venice by claiming housing is the “cure-all”...

Opinion: Why the Recall of Mike Bonin Matters

July 29, 2021

July 29, 2021

By Nick Antonicello For the first time in a long time Mike Bonin seems to be actually responding to the...

Opinion: Why Silence the Sheriff? Bonin Bashing of Villanueva Backfires at the Wrong Moment!

July 21, 2021

July 21, 2021

By Nick Antonicello Don’t like the message? Please don’t shoot the messenger! For that seems to be the case when...