Councilmember calls encampment “a perfect example of the city’s failed policies”
By Sam Catanzaro
Councilmember Mike Bonin has submitted a motion to Los Angeles City Council calling for the housing of people living in a homeless encampment along Penmar Golf Course, calling it a “perfect example of the city’s failed policies”.
The move comes as U.S. District Judge David O. Carter issued a preliminary injunction last week ordering the City and County of Los Angeles to urgently find alternative housing for 6,000-7,000 people living near freeway underpasses and ramps.
“The court order holds much promise for quick results, but the city and county must not respond by focusing nearly exclusively on encampments near freeways, and suddenly start to drain resources from already anemic efforts to address encampments in residential areas,” reads Bonin’s motion.
One of these residential areas is an encampment on the south side of the Penmar Golf Course along Rose Avenue. According to Bonin, more than 80 tents are present at this encampment.
“The Rose and Penmar encampment is a perfect example of the city’s failed policies,” Bonin wrote. “The encampment, which has effectively taken exclusive use of a path that was once a public resource, shows the failure of city policies to protect the public right-of-way.”
The City was under pressure to address this encampment prior to Judge Carter’s injunction. Last month a petition was started by the Rose Penmar Parkway Beautification Association–a coalition of nearby residents–calling on the City to transfer the jurisdiction of the public walking path to the Los Angeles Recreation and Parks Department. Petition supporters say it will become illegal to camp once Recreation and Parks take over the land.
“Once the strip of land’s jurisdiction is changed, it becomes park land and illegal to camp upon,” reads the petition. “Once the land is granted back to the Department of Recreation and Parks, we will then have an opportunity to pursue multiple means to beautify and improve the strip of land so that it can best serve our community.”
Bonin, however, when asked if he would support transferring the jurisdiction, expressed preferences for other alternatives.
“We’re not sure it actually would do what folks think it would do. It may, in fact, be that part of that land–the strip of land on the walk path just outside Penmar Golf Course–part of it is actually Recreation and Parks land already, so we are trying to determine what is Rec and Parks and what is Public Works, but simply switching jurisdiction probably does not get the magic result that people are anticipating,” Bonin told Yo! Venice in an interview last week. “If Recreation and Parks owns the underlying land, then it is an easy process. If part of it was deeded as a result of the Ballona land grants 300 years ago then that’s a more exhaustive process.”
Instead, as laid out in the motion, Bonin is calling on the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) to develop a Rapid Results Encampment to Home pilot program for the Rose-Penmar area. The motion, which is currently in the Council’s Homelessness and Poverty Committee, would also use various City tools such as Project Roomkey to provide alternatives to the encampment.
Petition organizers, however, continue to press for the jurisdiction change.
“Our petition is raising awareness and garnering attention for the Rose Avenue encampment and our cause. We will keep pressing forth until our goal of Rose Avenue beautification and safety has been achieved!” wrote the organizers this week.
On Thursday, May 21, the Venice Neighborhood Council will vote on a motion that urges that City support the transfer of the land over to Recreation and Parks.
“The Venice Neighborhood Council has voted to support a Street Vacation along the northern side of Rose Ave between the cross streets of Frederick St. and Glenavon Ave in the Venice area of Los Angeles. At present this unimproved right-of-way area might have once been intended as a sidewalk but in the 120+ years since Venice tract maps were first created, this land has never been paved or developed,” reads the letter. “The proposed Street Vacation will cause the department of Rec and Parks through reversion rights to gain control over the underlying land. Once in Rec and Parks control, a Parcourse exercise track will be established that will serve the local community.”