Posts Tagged ‘Homeless’

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

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June 11, 2012  – The Administrative Committee of the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) discussed a proposed resolution calling for public access to bathrooms as a Human Right – The committee voted unanimously to refer the motion to the Visitor Impact Committee of the VNC.

Item E. ACCESS TO TOILETS IS A HUMAN RIGHT on behalf of the Venice Community Unity Coalition.

MOTION : WHEREAS, according to the Venice Chamber of Commerce, Venice Beach is the 2nd-largest tourist attraction in Southern California after Disneyland and can draw up to 16 million visitors per year; and

WHEREAS, according to the Venice Neighborhood Council in 2004, an average summer weekend yields approximately 350,000 visitors to Venice Beach; and

WHEREAS, Los Angeles City provides 54 individual public restroom stalls at Venice Beach; and

WHEREAS, the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks closes said restrooms from approximately 9:00 pm — 6:00 am (the actual closing time varies from 6:00 pm to 10:30 pm), daily; and

WHEREAS, visitors and residents, including homeless persons, at Venice Beach are denied access to public restrooms after they are closed, on any given day; and

WHEREAS, lack of access to public restrooms may force the most law abiding persons to seek immediate relief, whereby everyone is affected negatively and it creates a health hazard; and

WHEREAS housed residents in Venice have been negatively impacted by the resulting inappropriate use of yards and alleys as latrines; and

WHEREAS, access to safe drinking water and sanitation is considered to be a ‘human right’ by the United Nations Human Rights Council; and

WHEREAS, in her report to the United Nations Human Rights Council on August 24, 2011 titled: “Report of the Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, Catarina de Albuquerque”, top UN investigator, Catarina de Albuquerque, states: “The human right to safe drinking water and sanitation derives from the right to an adequate standard of living which is protected by Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and Article 11 and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights…States’ obligation with regards to the right to safe drinking water and sanitation requires that water and sanitation be available, accessible, affordable, acceptable and of good quality for everyone without discrimination;” and

WHEREAS, the said UN report also states: “The United States, one of the wealthiest countries in the world, must ensure that everyone [has access] to sanitation which is safe, hygienic, secure and which provides privacy and ensures dignity. An immediate interim solution is to ensure access to restroom facilities in public places, including during the night. The long-term solution to homelessness must be to ensure adequate housing.”

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Venice Neighborhood Council calls upon the City of Los Angeles to:

1) declare access to safe drinking water and sanitation to be a human right;
2) provide adequate public restroom facilities to accommodate the large number of visitors to Venice Beach on any given day by:

a) allowing 24 hour daily access to existing public restrooms at Venice Beach;
b) providing additional portable public restrooms with 24 hour daily access at Venice Beach and other areas of Venice, particularly where homeless people congregate.

PLEASE SIGN OUR PETITION AND FORWARD TO AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE – THANKS:)    

http://www.change.org/petitions/access-to-toilets-is-a-human-right

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

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TELL L.A. CITY THAT ACCESS TO TOILETS IS A HUMAN RIGHT – EVERYWHERE – INCLUDING FOR HOMELESS PEOPLE AT VENICE BEACH!

America – world leader – in homeless abuse?

“On August 24, in an official report to the United Nations Human Rights Council, a top UN investigator said that the United States’ failure to provide homeless persons access to water and sanitary facilities “could … amount to cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment.” The report was issued by UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Water and Sanitation Catarina de Albuquerque.” (Whitney Gent, National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty)

The UN Special Rapporteur’s report states: “The United States, one of the wealthiest countries in the world, must ensure that everyone [has access] to sanitation which is safe, hygienic, secure and which provides privacy and ensures dignity. An immediate, interim solution is to ensure access to restroom facilities in public places, including during the night. The long-term solution to homelessness must be to ensure adequate housing.”

According to Amnesty International (AI) and the U.N. General Assembly access to toilets is a human right, as they are “essential to human well-being”.

Similarly, according to AI: “Housing is a basic human need and fundamental human right”.

OK, tell that to the thousands of homeless people living on the streets of Los Angeles today! Then, take a trip to Venice Beach, a district of Los Angeles and ask the homeless people sleeping on the street what these “rights” mean to them. They will likely laugh in your face and tell you there is no housing for them in Venice; and the only available public toilets, located at the beach, are locked from sunset to sunrise.

So where do they ‘go’ when they need to use the toilet after sunset and before 5:00 am (the beach is now under curfew from midnight to 5:00 am nightly)? Good question!

This is a health time-bomb waiting to explode and it doesn’t just apply to Los Angeles but to every city where homeless people are forced to live on the streets without adequate sanitation.

How is it possible that a country as advanced as America can turn a blind eye to this most fundamental human need?

Make your voice heard – tell the Mayor of Los Angeles and other city, county, state and federal officials that it’s time to make access to public toilets a human right in America.

PLEASE SIGN OUR PETITION AND FORWARD TO AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE – THANKS:)    

http://www.change.org/petitions/access-to-toilets-is-a-human-right

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

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Bill Rosendahl

From Councilman Rosendahl:

Dear Friends,

As many of you know, we have a crisis of homelessness in this nation, and it is particularly acute in Los Angeles and in Venice. In recent weeks, with encampments in Venice growing, the community dialogue has become heated. Some people have spread distorted or false information, and then demanded action based upon such misinformation, complicating the City’s efforts to find solutions to our shared problems.

In order to clear the air, share accurate information, and shed some light, my staff has compiled a FAQ (frequently asked questions) about the situation:

What is going on with the encampments in Venice?

Over the past year, encampments of people in bedrolls, tents, or cardboard boxes began to proliferate in Venice, mostly along Ocean Front Walk. Many of the people were down on their luck, and homeless. Fortunately, many of them availed themselves of the Emergency Winter Shelter program and connected with social service programs. Others were younger transients, living “off the grid” and on the streets. Still others suffered from alcoholism, addiction, or mental illness; many refused social services that provide housing and treatment.

In February, when the Los Angeles Police Department and the Department of Recreation & Parks began enforcing a curfew at Venice Beach, a number of encampments began springing up on or around Third Avenue in Venice, mostly between Sunset and Rose Avenues. A few encampments have recently emerged on the median of Venice Boulevard, near the Abbot Kinney Memorial Library.

The City has sought to strike a balanced approach: provide help to those who need and want it – and to enforce all applicable laws to protect quality of life.

What is the City doing about the encampments?

Despite the claims of certain activists, the City has taken consistent, strong and multiple measures to deal with the encampments. We have stepped up law enforcement with the LAPD. We have increased street cleanings with the Bureau of Street Services and other agencies. We have increased social services through People Assisting the Homeless and the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA).

What has LAPD done?

Under the supervision of Captain Jon Peters and his staff, the LAPD’s approach has been tough but measured, aggressive yet fair. Since February, officers have made more than 100 arrests for a variety of offenses, from outstanding warrants to drug charges to violent crime. LAPD is working closely with city prosecutors to ensure cases are as strong as possible to stand up in court.

What sort of clean-ups have been conducted?

The City has directed multiple and repeated clean-ups of the Third Avenue area, removing trash and abandoned materials, disposing of and cleaning up after human waste, and removing bulky item materials. The most recent large-scale clean-up was conducted Friday, April 27. Further clean-ups will happen, and on a regular basis.

So, why are so many people still sleeping on Third Avenue, and why is it such a mess?

Due to two court cases, the Jones case and the Lavan case, the City’s ability to enforce its laws has been significantly restricted:

On October 15, 2007, the City entered into a legally binding settlement, agreeing not to enforce the law prohibiting sleeping on the streets, between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. until it builds 1,250 units of permanent supportive housing. The City entered this agreement after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the National Lawyers Guild (Jones v. City of Los Angeles), found that the law against sleeping on the streets amounted to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the 8th Amendment, noting there were thousands more homeless people in L.A. County than there were shelter beds. This applies citywide, meaning it is currently lawful for people to sleep on the sidewalks at night.

In a separate case, Lavan v. City of Los Angeles, last year, ACLU attorney Carol Sobel, the Los Angeles Community Action Network, and the Los Angeles Catholic Worker obtained a restraining order, prohibiting the City from seizing or destroying property from homeless camps in downtown’s Skid Row. This means the City can only remove abandoned property. If someone claims that items in the streets are their personal belongings, the City cannot remove those items without risk of legal repercussions. The City is currently appealing this decision.

I heard the City has built enough beds to satisfy the Jones settlement and you can make it illegal to sleep on the streets again. True or false?

That is not true — yet. The settlement says the City “will keep this policy in effect and operate according to this policy until an additional 1250 units of permanent supportive housing are constructed within the City of Los Angeles, at least 50 per cent of which are located in Skid Row and/or greater downtown Los Angeles.” According to the Los Angeles Housing Department, the City needs to construct several hundred more units before it meets the requirements of the settlement.

The Lavan case does not apply in Venice, so why are the streets not cleaned up?

Many of the same people who won the Lavan injunction downtown are seeking to make it apply citywide, and are preparing legal action against the City to accomplish that. Overly aggressive action could backfire, and make it harder to clean up encampments. The City Attorney’s office is strongly cautioning Bureau of Street Services to proceed carefully, and has crafted guidelines and a protocol to make sure clean-ups in Venice and other areas of the City do not have unforeseen legal complications, including a citywide injunction against removing encampments.

So, what CAN the City do?

The LAPD can and will continue to enforce existing laws. Sleeping on the sidewalks is not permitted during the day. Blocking the sidewalks and impeding the public right of way is not permitted.

The City will also conduct periodic clean-ups of the encampment areas, using a protocol being devised by the City Attorney’s office. We will have more flexibility in removing materials from or near encampments if those sleeping on the streets have a safe and secure place to store their belongings.

I am also pleased to report that County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky has agreed to help assign teams of personnel from the Department of Mental Health to work with local social service providers to assist those living in encampments. A similar outreach program in Westchester Park a few weeks ago was very successful.

Why is the City allowing people to operate feeding programs on Venice Beach?

The Ninth Circuit Court has ruled that people or organizations have a First Amendment right to distribute free food. During litigation over the assignment and regulation of public space on Venice Beach’s Ocean Front Walk, the court insisted that the City set aside two spaces on Ocean Front Walk for food distribution. We are legally required to do that, and I support programs that feed hungry people during one of the worst economic recessions in our nation’s history.

What has the Councilman done about homelessness?

Since taking office in 2005, finding solutions to homelessness has been my passion. Some of my specific actions include:

* Securing funds to hire PATH, which has found permanent housing for more than 30 individuals who were living in their cars or RVs in Venice.
* Securing funding last year for the only early emergency winter shelter program in the county. Expanded the number of beds, setting some aside especially for homeless youth.
* Providing $400,000 in federal block grant monies so Upward Bound House could convert a motel on the Culver City/Mar Vista border into housing for homeless families.
* Supporting New Directions, Inc. in converting a house in Del Rey into a home for returning veterans of Iraq and Aghanistan.
* Joining Santa Monica Councilman Bobby Shriver in repeatedly lobbying the VA and the federal government to step up efforts to house homeless vets on the VA’s West LA campus.
* Supporting and securing nearly $1 million in federal block grant funds for the 1736 Family Crisis Center, which operates a youth shelter project for at-risk, runaway, and homeless adolescents.
* Supporting an affordable senior housing project in Del Rey, being built by developer Tom Safran.
* Supporting, allocating funds to, and finding a location for Stand up for Kids, which provides food, clothing and support to runaway and homeless young people.
* Securing $750,000 for Venice Community Housing Corporation’s permanent supportive housing facility at 15 Horizon.

What else do you plan on doing about homelessness?

I am currently working with LAHSA and civic-minded local residents to identify a location and funding for an emergency transitional housing facility on the Westside. I am also encouraging proposals from private and non-profit developers to build permanent supportive or affordable housing in the 11th District.

I keep hearing that the LAPD feels there is much more they can do to make our neighborhoods cleaner and safer and crack down on the encampments – but that you are forbidding them from doing so.

This is absolutely, patently false – and has been refuted, repeatedly, by Chief Charlie Beck and Captain Peters. My office and I vigorously support and encourage the LAPD to enforce the law. Captain Peters and I are in contact almost daily (and sometimes several times per day). We consider each other to be partners. I support him, his team, and his smart, measured enforcement of the law. Since February, LAPD has made more than 100 arrests or citations on Third Avenue. I’ve fought for more resources and flexibility for Captain Peters and his team, and he and Chief Beck will confirm that.

Is there anything else the public can do to help the LAPD?

Yes. Promptly reporting all crime to the LAPD is paramount. Property owners near encampments can also work with LAPD and install security cameras with recording devices. LAPD is also strongly encouraging residents to leave the enforcement to the LAPD and not take vigilante action.

What can you say about the angry feelings between Venetians over this issue?

We need less finger-pointing, less anger, and more of a cooperative spirit of good will. We cannot shout or accuse our way out of a problem; we need to work together, thoughtfully, as neighbors with a desire for a better community.

Addressing this problem requires a balanced approach. Some people insist we need more law enforcement. Others demand social services. We need both. We must secure public safety and preserve neighborhood quality of life – while respecting the law and the rights of people who do not have homes. We must help homeless people who need and want help – without enabling homelessness itself.

The question should not be: should we allow people to sleep on the streets? The question must be: how do we provide people housing, services, and shelter so no one has cause to sleep on the street?

Regards,

Bill

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

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An interview on KPFK’s “Uprising” with Sonali Kolhatkar

Residents and activists in Venice beach say police are harassing community members and the homeless as a new wave of gentrification hits the city, best known for its eclectic beach-loving population. Last Wednesday dozens of homeless people lost their personal belongings when the Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation, in cooperation with the LA Police Department, raided a homeless encampment at Third Street between Rose and Sunset Avenues in Venice Beach. Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl said the city was conducting a “sanitation action” that was only meant to sweep up abandoned property.

The homeless disagree, and say their personal items, including prescription medications, wallets, and clothing, were indiscriminately collected and immediately dumped into garbage trucks. Adding to the outrage of the community is a feeling of betrayal, because police began directing the homeless to the Third Street encampment when the city began enforcing a no camping ordinance on the boardwalk, which displaced many homeless individuals. Venice residents from the Oakwood neighborhood and others also report an increase in community members being ticketed by police for small infractions, such as not having the fence around a home properly painted.

GUESTS: David Busch, an activist with the Spirit of Venice Coalition, Maria Fitzsimmons, and organizer with People Organized for Westside Renewal, or POWER, and Kendra Moore, a POWER leader and president of the Holiday Venice Tenant Action Committee Visit http://www.power-la.org for more information.

There will a direct action training in relation to the Venice area activism on April 14-15, 2012. For more information, visit http://www.99spring.com.

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

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Venice Homeless Retrieve Belongings Trashed by City

Please sign our petition at Change.org to send email messages to LAPD, Councilman Rosendahl, City Attorney, Mayor Villaraigosa and other officials

Homeless people dig through trash to retrieve their belongings taken by LAPD and City sanitation

A handful of homeless people rummaged through heaps of garbage Thursday [March 8, 2012] in search of their belongings hauled off the day before in Venice by city trash collectors.

The trash haul Wednesday [March 7, 2012] on 3rd Avenue between Rose and Sunset avenues was done by the Los Angeles City Bureau of Sanitation, which is part of the Department of Public Works, with the involvement of the Los Angeles Police Department, said Richard Lee, a spokesman for the Bureau of Sanitation.

Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl said the sanitation cleanup occurred following “many, many complaints” from a broad cross-section of local people about public urination, defecation, blocked sideways and trash in the street.

“Sanitation took away as trash anything that was abandoned,” Rosendahl said Thursday. “It was a sanitation action of picking stuff up and, if people left stuff there, sanitation treated it as they would any abandoned stuff, as trash.”

Rosendahl said that he heard afterward that many homeless had their personal belongings collected and he arranged for two of the garbage trucks to be transferred to a Bureau of Sanitation yard in the 3300 block of Thatcher Avenue. The homeless searched Thursday for their belongings and Rosendahl said they also were invited back Friday from 10 a.m. to noon to reclaim their property.

Rosendahl also said that he would make it a policy going forward to give the homeless a courtesy notice before cleanups.

The incident is the latest in a series of developments impacting Venice’s homeless population, including a recent ban on overnight camping along the Venice Beach boardwalk, limitations on overnight parking for large vehicles and a program to transition vehicle dwellers into housing. More

On Tuesday February 28, 2012, 3rd Avenue between Sunset and Rose was closed off for almost seven hours (2:30 – 9:00 pm) while hordes of LAPD personnel scoured the area for a “drug suspect” who got away.  Coincidentally, 3rd Avenue happens to be the location where a large group of homeless people congregate at night to sleep on the sidewalk between the hours of 9:00 pm and 6:00 am.  The street closure and presence of dozens of police personnel was attributed to a “criminal investigation” following an alleged drug bust gone awry.

At the peak of this “investigation” there were 10-12 patrol cars, 1 large LAPD operations vehicle, several undercover LAPD cars, half a dozen detectives, a host of officials coming and going, a helicopter overhead, circling 3rd Avenue (and no further) for almost 4 hours; and Fox 11 news !!!

If that isn’t overkill we don’t know what is. Capt. Peters was overheard stating that the same treatment would apply if a civilian had been attacked – we think not.

Why LAPD over-reacted to this incident may never be known but word on the street is that two undercover officers tried to set up a drug deal on 3rd with the suspect, who got away, after being tasered twice and scuffling with the uniformed officers called to the scene.

Rumors were rife on the street that the suspect was shot and killed by officers or, shot himself. Fortunately, to the best of our knowledge, nobody was killed and the officers were not badly injured.

But, this question remains: is this a reasonable use of our tax dollars?

Almost immediately, an anonymous email was circulated on the internet linking the “suspect” with the homeless people who sleep on 3rd, accusing them of being “drug addicts and criminals”:

“Date: Wed, 29 Feb 2012 13:50:10 -0800
Subject: Venice Beach
From: newegg@mindspring.com
To: Charlie.Beck@lapd.lacity.org; 25811@lapd.lacity.org; mayor@lacity.org; larry.frank@lacity.org
CC: jon.peters@lapd.lapd.lacity.org; councilman.rosendahl@lacity.org; Arturo.Pino@lacity.org

To all those who may be concerned:
” This is what happens when drug addicts and criminals are given a free place to stay by the beach”.  It appears that our Councilman and folks in this city have given a higher priority to social services rather than to the safety of our community. What we have noticed is a lawlessness that seems to be allowed to continue at the expense of our safety here in Venice Beach. This is destroying our way of life here in Venice. The City Council’s political decisions unfortunately appear to be allowing this to continue.  Please reconsider this political problem.

Thank you”

This type of message only exacerbates the problem by falsely implicating homeless people as “drug addicts and criminals”.  The person who wrote this email obviously makes broad assumptions based on limited information.  Like the person who stood on the corner of Rose and 3rd during the “investigation” claiming that an officer had been stabbed – another assumption that proved to be untrue. People who spread inaccurate information to incite anger and hatred are like people who throw stones in glass houses – sure to crack.

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Stay in Touch with the Spirit of Venice ~ http://www.spiritofvenice.net

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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.”

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