Archive for December, 2012

December 31, 2012
To the Editor:

Peter Benenson, the founder of Amnesty International, coined a phrase fifty one years ago that has since become a proverb: “It is better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness.”

David Busch’s homemade porta-potty was the equivalent of that proverbial single candle. He built it as a good Samaritan. He conscientiously cleaned and serviced it and disposed of the waste, all for free, instead of cursing the City for failing to provide public facilities. The City’s failure also jeopardized the health of housed residents in the area, where streets and alleys and yards provided the only alternative.

Mr. Busch’s real crime was to embarrass public officials.  And what did the City learn from the jury’s “not guilty” verdict? There hasn’t been a peep about addressing the problem, just a threat from the City Attorney’s spokesman that Busch would face re-arrest if he did repeated his good deed.

David Ewing

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December 21, 2012
City Responds to Busch Verdict

Sandy Cooney, communications director for Los Angeles City Attorney’s office, gave the following statement regarding the verdict in the People vs. David Busch trial:

“That Mr. Busch was not found guilty of the public nuisance charge does not give him the right to violate the law. The result on this count is no guarantee of a similar outcome should there be a second offense, which we certainly hope will not occur.”

Sign our petition – “Access To Toilets Is a Human Right” –  make toilets available to homeless people – http://www.change.org/petitions/access-to-toilets-is-a-human-right

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Twelve jurors, on Wednesday, Dec 19, after about 1 hour of deliberation –found David Busch’s home-made Porta-Potty for the homeless, which was torn down and destroyed by the LAPD last April –had been a lawful benefit to the Venice community.

PORTA-POTTY-2Early this year, after pushing hundreds of homeless people and youth travelers off of Venice Beach’s Boardwalk from midnight until 5 am in the morning –and with no toilets available until nearly 8 am, Busch had been arrested by LAPD and charged with “creating and maintaining a public nuisance” (P.C. 372); for erecting a homemade Porta-Potty on Third Ave, near Rose; where up to 120 people, with no toilets, had begun attempting to find a safe shelter.

Starting with a tent for privacy, and after the City’s, own, unlawful, beach closure –Busch began collecting donations of soap, cleaning supplies and toiletries –and himself emptying and re-cleaning daily a bucket and a toilet seat lid for the Porta-Potty. The setup was in line with procedures outlined in Red Cross emergency manuals.

Maintaining the Porta-Potty necessitated hauling tightly sealed 5 gallons buckets –nearly four large city blocks to the nearest public toilets –and often two or three times a day.

In proving his innocence, Mr. Busch had to demonstrate that the utility of his conduct outweighed any offense to the larger community.

Additionally, Busch also was charged with violating LAMC 56.11: “Leaving property on a public sidewalk or street:”

For having, also, thereafter on Third Ave., a shopping-cart sized wheeled box –which he called his “Love Box.”

After an six additional hours of deliberation, and after three requests to the Judge, for the court to clarify the law and testimony –regarding the vague charge, which were all denied, the jury, in response, returned it’s verdict:

“Guilty.”

For violating LAMC 56.11.

LAMC 56.11 has been for several years constrained by a Federal Injunction –to prevent seizure of homeless people’s property that is merely left on the sidewalk, and not abandoned. In this case, the Judge did not allow a proposed jury instruction, that would have stated the charge must be balanced by all people’s 4th Amendment Right to Property.

During sentencing, for his un-abandoned Love Box on the sidewalk, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office demanded that Busch be entirely banished from Venice –for three years.

The Judge, instead, sentenced Busch to no probation, one day in jail, and time served.

Stated Busch at the end of the trial. “Today, after three days, and hours and hours of absurd testimony, presented by LAPD officers and City Hazardous Waste employees: absurd testimony from Officers that they never saw urination or defecation in Venice’s streets, or gutters, or alley’s; testimony that feces –contained in a bucket and later dumped down the toilet, was a greater threat to the watershed than the more than 60 lbs of feces and urine deposited in the streets, sidewalks and alleys –And all of which, supposedly, was meant to pick apart my own effort to keep the area clean –Venice’s Police Officers were given new, common-sense orders by their highest authority, the people:

12 jurors have instructed LAPD to open up their eyes –and recognize that even a homemade porta-potty by a homeless person is better than urination and defecation everywhere in Venice’s streets.

David Busch was represented by Defense Attorney John Raphling; who provided his services Pro-Bono, and is a member of the National Lawyers’ Guild.

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Stay in touch with the Spirit of Venice — spiritofvenice.net

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Rose Avenue's transformation

To: Los Angeles Times – RE: Rose Ave. in Venice

Dear Editors,

I love you.

Highlighting $3,140.00 per-month rents for one-bedrooms at Archstone –the Los Angeles Times recently front-paged an article here about a place called “Rose Avenue.”Implying that “better times” have arrived now –for all of Venice Beach.The article gives less than short-shrift to the loss of affordable housing here.  And, as well, the loss of coastal access that the increasingly costly commercial leases on Rose will mean –for the future of regular, working-class visitors here to Venice Beach.

Anyone looking for a welcoming and affordable restaurant –other than the pricy “Cafe Graditude.”

Or –just another yoga shop.

The article also –significantly undercounts the number of homeless people; and traditional youth hitchhikers –recently pushed off of Venice Beach’s Boardwalk; and onto 3rd Ave.  And it fails whatsoever to mention the loss of retail establishments that served the needs of the working classes of color still hanging on in nearby Oakwood.

It completely ignores the closure of all public toilets in Venice to the homeless at night; and other recent and controversial, LAPD tactics; including property seizures, and false reports under color of authority –that violated homeless’, and youth travelers’ rights here –all last summer.

Moreover –it merely glosses over what the loss of economic diversity underlying all this new glitz –means to the unique, creative heart of Venice.

In addition to ignoring the Coastal-Commission-violating signage, that was at the center of removing the last of the truly affordable housing left from Rose last year –those RV.s.

But hey, they’re getting over $4,000 a month; for two-bedroom apartments there now, at Archstone. Designer jeans go for $179 –and you can still get beers –for $3.50!

Venice Beach, for decades, has seen developer dreams like Abbott Kinney’s fade, and instead of  a developer-planned  haven of only expensive artists, Hollywood elites, and hanger-on hipsters; saw it’s greatest success –arise from its becoming, instead, a unique place of diversity:

Where whites, browns, blacks, native Americans, Asians; gay, poor, working-class –wealthy eccentrics, socialists, Jews, Buddists, and AME –mingled here with each other.

Forming a uniquely democratic, and American –cultural and economic wetlands.

In the same way salt, fresh water, and organic mulch –in nearby Ballona mingled –and created the precious wetlands there.

To preserve this cultural and economic access –it is critical that the California Coastal Commission should step-up soon: to restore and re-vitalize all this  economic diversity in Venice Beach; that of it’s own unplanned-by-developer genius, has made it Los Angele’s largest visitor destination.

A haven of poets, misfits –the damaged, and the disillusioned; who’ve made history; and world-class art here; inspired by their midnight strolls –freely gazing over it’s vast ocean, and the heaven’s stars.

And over it’s, until now –accessable-to-all (and not just the rich) beach.

Before it’s all trampled underfoot –by fat-walleted gawkers; herded here only to gaze, instead –at the mere movie stars.

I love you.

Sincerely,
David Busch
Homeless in Venice
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David Busch, a Unitarian Universalist, has recently taken a vow to begin and end all conversations with “I love you.”

Further reading on this subject:

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-rose-avenue-20121211,0,3795269.story

http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/V/bo13110973.html