Homelessness in the small beach community of Venice is at a breaking point.
Venice accounts for 5 % of the land, but 49% of the homeless population in CD11. This was not always the case.
In February of 2014, a few months after City Councilman Mike Bonin and Mayor Eric Garcetti took office, the Los Angeles Times reported 175 homeless people in Venice. A recent homeless count in 2019 shows that now more than 1,200 people live on Venice sidewalks, streets, and beaches, representing approximately 1 in 40 residents. While the Venice homeless population is increasing, the homeless population in the rest of CD 11 has been falling.
As a result, for many residents in Venice, this small, already crowded, and heavily touristed community has been so overwhelmed with crime, squalor, open-air drug dealing, human feces, trash on streets, and scattered syringes are now a common sight in residential neighborhoods, near elementary schools and local businesses.
How did we get here?
The data suggest that our crisis stems from poor leadership, evident in the squandering of public resources by public officials and their designees, the geographic over-concentration of homeless services, and the lack of accountability by political leaders and service providers.
These are the same issues that L.A. Alliance identified in its lawsuit against the City and County of Los Angeles as being the cause of devastation on skid row; the same systemic city failures are particularly apparent in Venice.
Rise in numbers
City-data obtained by Fight Back Venice reveals that during Mike Bonin’s and Eric Garcetti’s tenure in office, while the street-dwelling population in the rest of Bonin’s district (Council District 11) dropped by double-digits; including a 77% drop in Brentwood, a 59% drop in Pacific Palisades and a 42% drop in Westchester/Playa Del Rey, the homeless population in Venice went up more than 60%.
Public Resources are being squandered by poor leadership.
The City would have the public believe that it is without resources to address homelessness adequately. This is simply untrue.
In 2019, Bonin shepherded the donation of approximately 3.1 acres of property one block from the beach for use for the City’s “A Bridge Home” program, one of the only “Bridge Home” sites in CD11 despite ample availability of less valuable government property throughout the district. Over protests of residents, the City failed to consider any alternative locations for the project.
Since opening, the Bridge Housing facility in Venice has also failed the community. Although Mike Bonin promised that the ”A Bridge Home” initiative would provide relief from street crime, drug use and public endangerment, the $16 million project has been a far cry from the “good neighbor” policy Bonin promised the neighbors.
Venice’s “A Bridge Home” project has only exacerbated the local problem. This is reflected in the dramatic increase in crime in the surrounding residential community. According to CPRA requests, the first few months of opening the bridge home, over 150 calls to 911 made from within the facility.
Overpriced oversized Permanent Supportive Housing continues in Venice
The Venice Neighborhood Council recently voted down an oversized overpriced project presented by the largest homeless housing builders in Venice, Venice Community Housing (VCHC), only to have that vote overturned by the City's Planning Commission, which included an outright admonishment about housing the needy. But Permanent Supportive Housing (“PSH”) is only needed by approximately 20% of the population, is prohibitively expensive, and leaves too many out on the street without help.
The project’s budget is $20 million for 40 units at the cost of $500,000k each until. This project comes as the same group is breaking ground a few blocks away on a project projected at $500,000 for a studio or one-bedroom apartment. VCHC is also working on the Reese-Davidson Community on the Venice Canals or what many Venice residents call the “Monster on the Median.”
The Reese-Davidson Community on the Venice Canals comprises two three-story complexes – the West Complex and the East Complex – totaling 104,140 square feet of developed space, including 64,280 square feet of residential space, 2,255 square feet of retail space and 5,365 square feet of common area, as well as a 3,155-square-foot art studio and an 810-square-foot restaurant. Each complex has a multi-level parking structure in the middle surrounded by residential units – “Texas Donut” style. VCHC originally projected costs of $340,000 per unit.
However, financial records that FBV secured through public records requests show that VCHC is now projecting development costs of $68 million for the residential portion of the project, or approximately $470,000 per unit of Prop 2 or affordable housing in the project excluding parking, land and overages.
The L.A. Alliance is our best hope
Many Venice residents have joined L.A. Alliance to end the human suffering on the streets AND the adverse effects homelessness has on residents. We are ready for oversight and equal distribution of homeless services so that communities can absorb the housed and unhoused needs.
If you are a Venice resident and want to get involved, contact us.