Less than a week after a massive clean-up of homeless encampments on the Venice Beach Boardwalk, new arrivals continue to swarm the area, DailyMail.com can reveal.
City officials promised they would return at the end of July to finish the job, but residents and shop owners say enough is enough, and tell DailyMail.com that last week’s sweep was ‘all for show’.
Last week, a concerned resident who asked not to be identified captured a couple on video taking up camp near the popular boardwalk.
‘You can clearly see a man and a woman unloading their car at about 7pm,’ they said. ‘The car had an Arkansas license plate, and they just went about their business, lugging their belongings and setting up a tent on the sand like it was no big deal.’
Los Angeles sanitation services and the LAPD conducted a massive clean-up to remove homeless encampments from the Venice Beach boardwalk
City officials have said the efforts will continue at the end of July, but furious residents and shop owners tell DailyMail.com that last week’s sweep was ‘all for show’
Less than a week after the clean-up efforts, the homeless were back setting up their tents and swarming the tourist-filled boardwalk
Patrick Liberty, who has had a shop on the boardwalk for 25 years, says his business has taken a huge beating with homeless tents set up directly across from his store
‘The people camped out front my store are not looking for housing, they are looking for drugs and have made this place their permanent home,’ said Liberty
Patrick Liberty, who has had a shop on the boardwalk for 25 years, says his business has taken a huge beating with homeless tents set up directly across from his store.
‘The reality on the ground here is undeniable, it’s a disaster. It’s been very debilitating for my business, this is the last thing you want in front of a shop. Tourists and locals alike are afraid to walk down the boardwalk, let alone come into my store,’ Liberty said.
‘Over the years, I’ve seen it all and can confidently say this is not a mere housing problem,’ he explained to DailyMail.com.
‘The people camped out front my store are not looking for housing, they are looking for drugs and have made this place their permanent home. They sit out on lounge chairs during the day and ask people for a dollar so they can buy crack. These people are in need of help, help to overcome their addictions and help with learning basic life skills. You can’t just put street people in a home and think that’s it, that’s the answer. For some people yes, but for the people who willingly come here to live on the beach, no.
‘Just this morning, I saw a man screaming at the top of his lungs, walking down the boardwalk with torn up clothes and shouting out nonsense. Try putting him in a home. It’s simply not the solution,’ Liberty said.
Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin, who has come under fire for what many call a lack of leadership and a lack of concern for the residents of Venice, has a completely different take on the situation.
On July 14, a concerned resident who wished to remain anonymous captured a couple on video unpacking their car to take up camp near the popular boardwalk
Bystanders captured video of an angry and violent man on the boardwalk holding what appears to be a rod. ‘Just this morning, I saw a man screaming at the top of his lungs, walking down the boardwalk with torn up clothes and shouting out nonsense. Try putting him in a home. It’s simply not the solution,’ said shopowner Patrick Liberty
On July 12, Bonin tweeted, ‘More than half of the unhoused population on Venice Beach’s Ocean Front Walk-110 people-are sleeping indoors & are on a path to permanent housing as a result of the Encampments to Homes program.’
Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin has come under fire for what many call a lack of leadership and a lack of concern for the residents of Venice. He tweeted about the clean-up efforts on July 12
Venice native Andrew Sullivan says it’s a bit early for Bonin to be patting himself on the back and describes the recent clean-up as nothing more than ‘the Mike Bonin Boardwalk Shuffle’ as homeless encampments move further north and the sand resembles Burning Man.
‘Venice Beach is in a state of emergency on all levels, and what we need right now is FEMA,’ Sullivan told DailyMail.com.
‘If you were to dare go to the boardwalk tonight, you would not see these so-called mental health workers from St. Joseph’s Center walking around, helping people. Residents only see this happen when they call the media to be here or an activist’s livestream camera is on. It’s a collection of the biggest non-profit grifters ever assembled in one city.
‘It’s all about making those in charge look like they are actually doing something, when those of us who live here see first hand the horrors of mismanagement. If our leaders wanted to fix this, they’ve had $800million plus in the bank since 2017 to do so and they were just given another $5million,’ he added.
‘The streets indicate otherwise and the residents are organizing recalls to end the madness from Bonin to California Governor Gavin Newsom,’ said Sullivan.
So where is this money going?
Sullivan claims the money is going to the salaries of Bonin and Va Lecia Adams Kellum, the President & CEO of St Joseph’s Center.
Venice native Andrew Sullivan describes the recent clean-up as nothing more than ‘the Mike Bonin Boardwalk Shuffle’ as homeless encampments move further north and the sand resembles Burning Man
‘Venice Beach is in a state of emergency on all levels, and what we need right now is FEMA,’ Sullivan told DailyMail.com
Los Angeles has been cracking down on its sprawling homeless encampments with a new ordinance banning camping under freeways, parks or near schools, and can’t take over sidewalks
Some residents believe not enough is being done to clear out the homeless and say it is a deliberate move by the city. ‘They are deliberately not doing anything as a way to distress the property values of the community, so rich developers can come in and buy, and then upgrade,’ said Patrick Liberty
According to Cause IQ, a website that provides business data on nonprofits, St. Joseph’s took in $16million in salaries in 2020, along with $9million for other expenses, $7million for miscellaneous/other expenses and $2million fee-for-service/other. The center also took a federal PPP loan of $3,199,400 in 2020 despite having an increase in revenue of nearly $10million.
In a newsletter dated June 28, St. Joseph’s indicated the center assisted with 3,000 people in the last year, while many claim the center was closed during the pandemic and it was only 200 people that were actually given help.
Longtime Venice resident Rick Swinger says he’s recorded messages where his calls to emergency lines at St Joseph’s go unanswered, while women lay in the alleys near the center.
When asked why more isn’t being done, Liberty said he, along with many other shop owners think it’s deliberate.
‘They are deliberately not doing anything as a way to distress the property values of the community, so rich developers can come in and buy, and then upgrade…to destroy all the little businesses like mine that are just barely scraping by with the pandemic already and then you put this in front of your store. It’s like shoving your head under water. You have a bunch of crazy people out front of the shops. Its going to be impossible to meet the rent.’
A large number of homeless encampments are still present at the Venice boardwalk, despite massive clean-up efforts made by the city
Residents in the area are considering moving — but property prices have dropped by anywhere between 10 and 30 percent, so a move may not be economically viable
Shopowner Patrick Liberty said, ‘The reality on the ground here is undeniable, it’s a disaster. It’s been very debilitating for my business, this is the last thing you want in front of a shop. Tourists and locals alike are afraid to walk down the boardwalk, let alone come into my store’
Locals believe the homeless crisis is beyond a housing issue, and point to drugs as the fuel propelling the surge in people on the streets
Two days after the July 8 clean-up, the City of Los Angeles posted a photo on their Twitter account of someone skateboarding in what looked to be a clean, beautiful Venice Beach…turns out they made a mistake as pointed out by locals responding to the tweet.
The photo was actually of Santa Monica. One person left a message, along with a more accurate photo from the same day, one with tents and garbage littered along the boardwalk with the caption ‘Fixed it for you’.
In May, exclusive DailyMail.com photos showed tent-dwellers who have abandoned downtown LA’s Skid Row and the freeway ramps in Long Beach, turning the beach into the nation’s newest flashpoint between business interests and those forced from their homes.
And while tourists and locals still visit the iconic boardwalk – a place they have long shared with the weird and the wacky – visitors’ numbers have decreased as they must contend with an ever-growing army of homeless and the crime that accompanies them.
DailyMail.com found syringes — one with a needle still attached — nestling in the sand in a children’s play area on the beach, emblematic of how the people for whom the area was designed are now being pushed out.
Residents in the area are considering moving — but property prices have dropped by anything between 10 and 30 percent, so a move may not be economically viable.
Homelessness has DOUBLED in LA in past five years as the city struggles to combat the humanitarian crisis
Los Angeles has been ravaged by its homeless crisis for the last decade, with the number of homeless people rising steadily from around 40,000 in 2011.
In the last year, homelessness increased by 12.7 per cent in LA County because there aren’t enough homes people can afford, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.
More than 63,000 people are homeless in LA County, the authority reports.
The issue is most visible in downtown LA, where hundreds of people live in makeshift shanties that line entire blocks in the notorious neighborhood known as Skid Row.
Tents regularly pop up on the pavement outside City Hall and encampments are increasingly found in suburban areas under freeway overpasses.
In 2015, City Council members and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that they would declare an emergency locally.
However the proposal was abandoned because the mayor wanted a statewide declaration from then California Governor Jerry Brown, who refused the request.
Four years ago, LA voters then approved a tax hike and $1.2 billion housing bond to channel investments into helping solve the homeless crisis.
That bond money has so far been used to build more than half of the 10,000 new housing units planned countywide over 10 years – but housing is still in short supply.
In 2018, LA declared a shelter crisis, which reduced construction hurdles around developing emergency beds on public land.
Then in 2019, County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and City Councilman Joe Buscaino put forward a proposal calling on Governor Gavin Newsom to declare a state of emergency over the crisis – a call that never materialized.