It’s great to read that Robin Abcarian, Opinion Columnist of the LA Times, has come around to the lack of leadership and policy that is devastating Los Angeles communities. In her article, The Venice Homeless Encampment Next Door, Abcarian acknowledges that with no leadership or sensible policy, residents of Los Angeles are left to fend for themselves in a dystopian world.
Abcarian clearly describes the situation: machete wielding, shootings, gunshots, fires, drug use and drug dealing, screaming, and fighting – all on display with no judgement or recourse. Her dispassionate portrayal of Venice makes her seem a bit sympathetic, but not enough to call out the failure of city and county leaders to address the crisis comprehensively.
Abcarian understands what it’s like to live in a community constantly confronted with the reality that is Los Angeles’ failure to help the homeless because she lives in Venice. The scene she describes is part of her daily routine.
The article is less an opinion piece than an article conveying the realities that LA residents face every day. Giving an opinion on the devastation and lawlessness on display in her neighborhood could only criticize the status quo, which normally the LA Times rationalizes and defends at all costs. Instead, it conveys a sense that the only way things will change is if something magical were to fall from the skies of Los Angeles.
The truth is, while Los Angeles’s leaders are fighting over the redistricting process and next year's elections, the LA Alliance for Human Rights has taken the initiative and is demanding change. The Alliance sued the City and the County to cut through the politics and bureaucracy to force the City and County to provide shelter, services and treatment, and safe streets. It’s sensible policy that has already made an impact as reported in another part of the LA Times.
Instead of taking the tragedy of Los Angeles in stride, as Abcarian appears to do, residents from the beach to the Valley to Downtown need to rise up and organize to put pressure on the City and County to settle the LA Alliance suit. Settling the lawsuit is the most direct, no-nonsense pathway to a comprehensive solution that would reclaim our streets and public spaces, and provide shelter and treatment to the unhoused.
The lawsuit provides the accountability and oversight that is lacking from the City Council and County Board by holding them to the legal strictures of a legally binding agreement overseen by a very dynamic judicial officer. That is what helped clean up the encampments in the Santa Ana River and the communities of Bellflower and Santa Ana. It’s what we need in Los Angeles.