Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva declared Monday that his department would clear out growing homeless encampments from Venice Beach by July 4 — to the delight of local residents and the horror of City Council member Mike Bonin.
The Santa Monica Daily Press reported Tuesday that Villanueva visited Venice and vowed to end the “horror show”:
In a break with jurisdictional tradition, L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva announced his intention to clear the Venice Boardwalk of its unhoused population by July 4.
Villanueva said his department will work with the LAPD and use every pathway available to safely move individuals including Project Roomkey beds, City and County shelters, non-profit housing facilities and approved camping sites.
“We’re going to designate where people can pop up their tents, but it’s not going to be in the middle of a tourist destination destroying businesses,” said Villanueva. “This is not Venice. This is a horror show that’s been foisted on this community.”
Homeless outreach and enforcement in Venice is under the City of L.A.’s purview. However, neither CD-11 Councilman Mike Bonin nor Mayor Eric Garcetti have announced a plan to address the spiraling situation on the Boardwalk where tents now number over 200.
The state’s Project Roomkey has paid for hotel rooms for the homeless, but the homeless population appears to keep growing, and tent cities have spread throughout Los Angeles. Villanueva compared Venice Beach, which is part of the City of Los Angeles, to neighboring Santa Monica, which has a homeless problem but does not allow tent encampments.
Villanueva’s announcement was welcomed on social media by local residents, who have witnessed growing crime and chaos in the area — including an incident Monday when a woman with a knife was arrested as she attempted to disrupt an event by mayoral candidate Joe Buscaino, a Democrat who is currently president pro tempore of the City Council.