August 11, 2020 #1 Local News, Forum, Information and Event Source for Venice Beach, California.

Venice Homeless Shelter Passes Legal Hurdle

California Supreme Court declines to hear Venice Stakeholder’s Association case against bridge housing center

By Sam Catanzaro

The California Supreme Court denied to hear a legal challenge to a homeless shelter in Venice brought forward by the Venice Stakeholders Association.

On Tuesday, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer announced that the California Supreme Court denied a Petition for Review filed by the Venice Stakeholders Association against the Pacific Sunset: A Bridge Home Shelter.

“My office will continue to fight to defend the homeless housing we so urgently need,” Feuer said. “These victories are important milestones in this vital work.”

The 154-bed shelter opened in February on the 3.15-acre lot that takes up an entire block between Pacific Avenue and Main Street south of Sunset Avenue.

The lawsuit brought forward by the VSA centered around AB 1197, a state bill passed in October 2019 which exempts emergency homeless shelters and supportive housing from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

“The city failed to comply with the requirements of CEQA, California’s environmental law. It was clear from the judge that we were about to prevail and force additional environmental compliance when the city got the legislature to pass AB 1197 which exempted only Los Angeles and any of its shelter and homeless housing projects from CEQA review. We appealed all the way to the Supreme Court and I believe they made an incorrect decision because the CA constitution requires a rational basis for giving an exemption to just one jurisdiction and not the residents of the entire state. San Francisco’s got a higher homeless population per capita than Los Angeles, which means there’s nothing unique about Los Angeles that justifies exemption under the California constitution,” said VSA President Mark Ryavec. “It is an insult to the good people of Los Angeles that the State’s judicial system allowed the Legislature to deprive only residents in LA of the protections of environmental laws, while residents in every other city enjoy those protections. It is grossly unfair and a misguided decision by the courts.”

In an interview with ABC 7, Feuer noted that the decision allows the City to move forward with the development of more shelters.

“[AB 1197] was adopted last year designed to facilitate the construction of homeless housing in this city and bypass what could otherwise be objections that could slow down the process for a long time. That can’t be the rule,” Feuer said. “We are going to continue to fight to defend the city’s homeless housing throughout our region right now.”

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