Virtual town hall Monday 1-2 p.m.
By Sam Catanzaro
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva is set to hold a town hall titled “Protecting Parks and Beaches”, his latest move aimed at tackling homelessness.
The event will take place Monday from 1-2 p.m.. Those wishing to participate can CLICK HERE.
The event seems in part a reaction to a proposal by Councilmember Mike Bonin to study the possibility of bringing homeless shelters to a collection of Westside public spaces.
On May 26, Los Angeles City Council voted 13-1 with one abstention to approve Councilmember Mike Bonin’s proposal to look into bringing more housing for homeless individuals to the Westside. The motion, introduced to Council at the end of March, calls on various agencies to study the feasibility of bringing a variety of projects to combat homelessness to locations across the Westside.
Among the locations is the Los Angeles County-owned parking lot at Will Rogers State Beach at 17000 Pacific Coast Highway in Pacific Palisades. According to Bonin, this location would serve as a temporary site for single-occupancy tiny-homes or safe camping.
The motion also calls for looking into the feasibility of bringing similar housing options to the following locations across the Westside: Mar Vista (Mar Vista Park), Marina Del Rey (Fisherman’s Village), Playa del Rey (Dockweiler Beach), Del Rey (private building at 5000 Beethoven Avenue), Westchester (Westchester Park) and West LA (West LA Municipal Building).
Villanueva has been taking a different approach addressing the homelessness crisis, being critical of Bonin’s efforts. On June 23, Villanueva sent the letter–titled “Local State of Emergency Regarding the Homelessness Crisis”– to the County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors.
“Since taking office, I have watched the state, county, and local government fail to address the homelessness crisis affecting the residents of Los Angeles County (County). Despite spending in excess of $6.5 billion over the last ten years to address the issue, and the creation and efforts of the Los Angeles Services Authority (LAHSA), nothing has changed,” began the letter. “Residents and business owners should not be subjected to walking around piles of trash and human feces in their neighborhoods, businesses, parks, and communities.”
Villanueva argued that the state of homelessness in the county is not only causing residents to leave, but also impacting tourism.
“Venice Beach, Olvera Street, and Hollywood are currently under siege. The homeless situation and lawlessness citizens are experiencing is keeping tourists from coming to Los Angeles County. Venice was once the number two tourist destination in Southern California, second only to Disneyland. The economic hardships our local business owners and residents are facing is unacceptable,” Villanueva wrote.
In addition, the Sheriff stated that homelessness endangers residents living in Los Angeles County’s mountainous communities.
“Fires from homeless encampments are threatening our local residents who live within mountainous areas. On a daily basis, fires are started by the transient population taking refuge in the wilderness. With the current doubt California is experiencing, resources are desperately needed to prevent a catastrophic event in these communities,” Villanueva wrote.
In asking the Board of Supervisors to declare a state of local emergency, Villanueva advised tapping into all available state and federal funding to address the crisis, including assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In addition, he requested emergency funding to the LASD Homeless Outreach Service Team (HOST), whose officers are currently engaging with the homeless population on the Venice Boardwalk.
“The Board needs to provide emergency funding to HOST so I can expand their efforts across the County to properly address a crisis that has been allowed to metastasize on multiple fronts,” Villanueva wrote.