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NEW CURFEW RESTRICTS ACCESS TO OCEAN FRONT WALK CAUSING MORE HOMELESS PEOPLE TO OCCUPY 3RD AVE. JUST A BLOCK AWAY FROM “SILICON BEACH” (GOOGLE’S NEW HQ ON 2ND AVE.) IN VENICE
Close to 100 people gathered on 3rd Ave at Rose Ave in Venice on Thurs, Feb. 16, 2012 to protect the rights of homeless people to sleep on the sidewalk from 9:00 pm – 6:00 am, as stipulated in the Jones Settlement (allowing homeless individuals to sleep on the sidewalk). The settlement, in effect city-wide now for several years, on behalf of the homeless –was brought in response to the civil case, Jones v Los Angeles –by the city’s prominent civil rights attorney, Carol Sobel.
They were met by several LAPD patrol cars occupied by officers who informed them that people do not have the right to sleep, sit or lay on the sidewalk – anytime – day or night. The demonstrators stayed until the police left the area, and they vowed to return the next night and every night, if necessary, to stand in solidarity against the police, to protect the rights of homeless people to sleep – somewhere.
There were no arrests that night and, so far, one week later, there have been no arrests or sweeps on 3rd Ave.
But that could change at any time.
This most recent focus on homeless people sleeping on 3rd Ave. seems to be related to the recent curfew imposed by the City of Los Angeles on Venice’s Ocean Front Walk (aka “Boardwalk”) from midnight to 5:00 am, where some homeless people had been camping for the past several months.
Not everyone in Venice, or in Los Angeles, for that matter, are happy with the curfew which restricts access not only to the beach but to Ocean Front Walk from midnight to 5:00 am. This latest action by the City seems to have been instigated by a small group of disgruntled residents of Venice, intent on gentrifying this eclectic beach town that has historically hosted hippies, homeless and young travelers since the 60s.
Activist, David Busch, believes that this latest assault on the poor sleeping on 3rd Ave. is related to Google’s recent move to 2nd Ave. (one block west of 3rd) where they are building a “campus” that will encompass an entire city block, with plans to expand further in the next year or two. Recently, Venice Neighborhood Council postponed and rescheduled (April 12) a special Venice Town Hall meeting entitled: Silicon Beach – to consider the impacts of Google and other production-based businesses locating in Venice and Westside communities.
Meanwhile, as Venice gentrifies, homeless people are displaced with nowhere to go but Skid Row; and what was once considered the “people’s beach” is rapidly becoming an exclusive enclave for the rich. Busch maintains that this is segregation, pure and simple, because all people should have equal access to the beach 24/7, just as the 1976 California Coastal Act stipulates:
Busch claims: “Whether the city of Los Angeles recognizes them or not, Venice Beach’s poor artists, homeless, and youthful beach-travelers should always have a place in Venice –despite the fact that all these [city] officials apparently want to do, now, is cater to Google. And we’ll be facing arrests again tonight, and in coming nights, if we have to.”