Tue, Apr

LA Officials Under Scrutiny: Annual Homeless Count to Determine Progress in Venice 

HOMELESSNESS - The issue of homelessness here in Los Angeles and specifically Venice and the actual progress of decreasing this scourge of the streets will be known when the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) will conduct its annual homeless count and those results will be a clear indicator of the performance of elected officials like Mayor Karen Bass, Councilwoman Traci Park (CD-11) and LA County Supervisor Lindsey Horvath of the 3rd District. 

All three assumed office last year and have indicated that the conditions of the streets are improving and that a net decrease of homelessness either in encampments or RV’s should be expected when this new homeless count is complete. 

Both Bass and Horvath have engaged and embraced LAHSA to do better as both have assumed seats on this controversial hybrid agency that has failed to combat these conditions for some time despite record numbers in new spending that to date has resulted in no progress at all. 

Mayor Bass declared a state of emergency upon assuming office, but while we have seen some progress in terms of street encampments, an explosion of RV’s here in Venice that has been estimated in the hundreds continues to plague this weary neighborhood. 

While there is no question, we have witnessed progress in terms of removing encampments on Third, Hampton and Flower, RV’s have taken main corridors hostage such as Washington, Venice and Rose as well as Main Street here locally. 

WHOLE FOODS saw a major cleanup on Rose only to see the same encampment move closer to Lincoln as seen in picture above. 

Horvath’s staff made a presentation to the Homelessness Committee of the Venice Neighborhood Council late last year that was to address the chronic conditions at Oceanfront Walk and the Boardwalk, but the strange engagement lacked any specifics, timeline or cost, leaving most in attendance what exactly was the Supervisor’s intent and plan?  

For it is this lackluster approach by Horvath’s office that is condescending and irritating to say the least. 

And what makes most Venetians cautious is that the 2022 LAHSA Homeless Count did not include specific data on the year over year street population in Venice. For some strange reason, those statistics were never made public and after asking repeatedly for those numbers, to date they remain an acute mystery!

Moreover, Councilwoman Park’s proverbial “flip-flop” on bridge housing remaining in Venice lacked any policy explanation and many observers concluded that due to the mayor’s continued contention the facility remain open despite the failures surrounding the location and the dissatisfaction of many Venetians who want that facility closed. Park’s political alliance with Bass to date has seemingly helped in some cleanups as this two steps forward, one step backward approach has had mixed results. 

And as many believe Venice continues to be a containment zone for homelessness while neighboring communities such as Westchester and Pacific Palisades receive a free pass as to their shouldering some of the unhoused burden, others await the decision of the Coastal Commission as to the proposal known as the “Monster on the Median” and if that project will further commit this tourist destination as the capitol of homelessness here in CD-11. 

Venice is the single largest venue for homeless in CD-11 and only Skid Row seems to have more unhoused individuals. 

But verifiable and reliable reporting is necessary to judge just what is working and what is not and that data is seemingly not being shared with the public at-large. 

Having data that demonstrates what was done in 2023 by Bass, Park and Horvath would go a long way in building public confidence that in fact things are getting better and that the homeless population is decreasing, which should be the stated public policy objective of any responsible and serious elected official. 

But the data should be shared, discussed and evaluated, and needs to be the only yardstick that matters when analyzing just what direction we are headed as a city and community. 

(Nick Antonicello is a thirty-one-year resident of Venice who covers the issue of homelessness here in the neighborhood. Have an encampment or RV issue on your street or block? Contact him via e-mail at [email protected]).