by WorldTribune Staff, January 13, 2019
Americans are hearing often about welcoming people in to a society, whether legal or not.
But since homeless encampments began springing up near their lavish homes and adjacent to their ritzy golf courses, the elites in Venice Beach, California were not so welcoming.
There are currently some 1,000 homeless in Venice, the largest concentration of homeless on the west side of Los Angeles, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
“There are actually [residents] advocating driving the homeless out of Venice – shipping them off somewhere, which is such a proto-fascist move,” said television writer Evan Dunsky, who has lived in the area for 27 years. “And then what? Do we have to build a wall around Venice?”
Residents in the community, where homes go for an average of $1.9 million, say the number of physical assaults and harassment and break-ins have increased as the homeless population in Venice has risen. Residents say their mail regularly goes missing and hypodermic needles and human waste are visible on the sidewalks and at local playgrounds, the Hollywood Reporter noted.
Gary Foster, producer of Sleepless in Seattle, who moved to the area two years ago and works with the homeless advocacy group The People Concern, said those who are complaining “tend to be liberal, they want to do good in the world, but they’re balancing their beliefs with how that might impact the value of their real estate.”
Residents around the Penmar Golf Course recently raised $80,000 on GoFundMe. The money did not go toward helping the homeless, it went to purchase native plants and landscaping to separate a pedestrian pathway from a large homeless encampment nearby.
“Honestly, I think we are a step and half away from vigilantism,” said a talent manager who has lived in the area for two decades. “I feel like this is heading toward a Guardian Angels type situation that you saw in 1970s New York. Someone is going to go out there with a lead pipe and give someone a serious beatdown. It’s awful to say, but I don’t see what prevents that from happening.”
The homeless say Venice residents are openly hostile to them. Randy “Dee” Collins, 25, said that his family has long owned property in Venice but he has chosen a life on the street against their wishes. Collins said he offered one resident money for water but “she didn’t want to participate in anything that would help us.”
The city’s plans to open a 154-bed transitional (“bridge”) housing shelter further inflamed residents.
At a city council meeting in October, council member Mike Bonin, whose district includes Venich Beach, and LA Mayor Eric Garcetti “were targets of angry chants and tirades that effectively centered on whether Venice was being asked to unfairly shoulder the burden for the entire Westside’s homeless population,” the Hollywood Reporter noted.
Bonin said he had an obligation to place the facility for his district in Venice because that is “where the problem is most acute” Those opposed to the shelter contend that the site is too close to schools and residences.
The facility was approved by the Los Angeles City Council in December.
“There are crime problems in Venice,” Bonin said, but added, “I can’t accept the idea that there is an inextricable link between crime and homelessness. It is wrong, it is not backed up by the data, and it leads to bad policy.”
Bonin said critics of the city’s efforts are resorting to inflammatory language in an effort to smear the homeless.
“One of the anti-bridge-housing organizers posted something online that said, ‘We need to call in Stephen Miller to help us deal with this,’ ” Bonin said. “The similarities in the language used when referring to the homeless and how Trump refers to immigrants is startling.”