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Venice Beach homeless. (Photo: Venice resident, with permission)

While Venice Beach Residents Under Lockdown, Homeless and Encampments Grow and Thrive

None of the COVID-19 lockdown rules seem to apply to the homeless

By Edward Ring, March 26, 2020 5:20 pm

 There is not a homeless crisis or housing crisis in Venice Beach so much as a drug crisis, an alcoholism crisis, a mental health crisis, and a breakdown of law and order.


Apart from excursions to perform essential work or engage in essential activities, California’s 40 million residents have now been under house arrest for over a week. But in the homeless haven known as Venice Beach, the party hasn’t skipped a beat.

Law abiding residents have deserted the Los Angeles coast after a crackdown following a weekend of what mayor Eric Garcetti called people getting “too close together, too often.”

Parking lots along the Los Angeles beaches are roped off. Along the boardwalk in Venice Beach, all the businesses are closed.

None of these new rules seem to apply to the homeless. Whatever minimal law enforcement still existed in Venice Beach prior to the COVID-19 outbreak has diminished further, and more tents than ever have appeared on the boardwalk and along the streets.

Venice Beach. (Photo: used with permission of Venice resident)

It’s important to recognize that some of California’s homeless are victims of circumstances beyond their control, who want to work, who have to care for young children, who stay sober, who obey the laws. But not sufficiently acknowledged by agenda driven politicians and compassionate care bureaucrats is the fact that most of these truly “homeless” find shelter.

The vast majority of homeless that remain unsheltered, especially in places like Venice Beach, are either drug addicts, alcoholics, mentally ill, or criminals. None of these people belong on the streets, not now, and not ever. There is not a homeless crisis or housing crisis in Venice Beach so much as a drug crisis, an alcoholism crisis, a mental health crisis, and a breakdown of law and order.

Stories about what has been happening in Venice Beach are endless and chilling:

  • A man swinging an ax in the middle of an ally who cannot be arrested because he isn’t breaking any laws;
  • A gang of youths disassembling literally stacks of high-end bicycles in front of their tents, but this isn’t a chop-shop because there is no proof;
  • Other youths who’ve clambered onto the roof of a church to engage in loud drunken revelry all night long, later willing to vandalize the homes of residents they suspect of calling the police;
  • Women followed and harassed;
  • human and canine feces everywhere;
  • bottles of urine sitting on street curbs;
  • discarded syringes;
  • rats multiplying like, rats, getting fat on garbage and food scraps piling up around tents;
  • men stoned on methamphetamine and frenetically prowling the streets;
  • schizophrenics howling at the voices in their heads.

And it still goes on and still goes on and still goes on. Virus? What virus?

Nothing that California’s state and local policymakers have done to-date have been effective in combating these crises, because their approach has been what they refer to as “housing first,” a policy that prioritizes providing housing prior to addressing behavioral issues. “Housing first” is a boondoggle, rewarding politically connected members of the Homeless Industrial Complex. It will never solve the problem, even if for no other reason, then because of the astronomical costs.

Venice Beach offers a perfect example of this failed approach, where a “temporary bridge housing” facility opened up in February.

Two blocks from the Pacific Ocean, this shelter, one of 26 either built or under construction in Los Angeles, holds 154 beds, supposedly to accommodate a homeless population in Venice Beach that exceeds 1,000. The shelter cost $8 million and has an estimated annual budget of about $8 million. This is a preposterous waste of money, especially when considering how it operates: The shelter, which officially opened on February 26, does not require its residents to submit to counseling for substance abuse, much less require sobriety. It is a “wet” shelter, meaning inebriated residents can enter the shelter with no restrictions. Even now, it has no curfew, meaning residents can roam the streets at any hour of the day or night and still return to the shelter. It carries out no background checks on any of the residents.

Worst of all, the shelter was marketed to residents as a way to compel homeless people to get off the streets and become “good neighbors.” Once “supportive housing” was available, the law would permit police to evict the homeless who have set up permanent encampments in front of residents and businesses. A deadline of March 7th to evict the homeless came and went, however, and more homeless than ever are living for free on some of the most expensive real estate on earth.

Venice Beach. (Photo: used with permission of Venice resident)

The uptick in crime since this shelter opened has neighbors feeling like prisoners in their own homes. How ironic. The COVID-19 pandemic merely made that status official.

Incredibly, the “permanent supportive housing” planned for Venice Beach includes destroying the last public beach parking so a monstrous apartment house can be built on the city owned property. Planned to have only 140 units, the construction costs and land values put the total project cost at over $200 million. By any sane definition, doing this is a crime against the hard working surrounding residents and against all taxpayers.

Meanwhile, today, the rent-paying, mortgage paying, business lease paying residences and business owners in Venice Beach are being quarantined into financial ruin. Small businesses that survive on small margins can’t stay open. Landlords who only own one or two properties can’t collect rent because their tenants are out of work. And nothing the city, state, or federal government has done is helping.

While politicians talk about interest free loans from the SBA, one has to wonder if any of these elected officials have ever tried to fast-track an SBA loan, or tried to get relief from a mortgage company. Retailers are small businesses, and these owners can’t just call the SBA and ask for a loan. There is the underwriting process, huge applications to fill out, a requirement for three years of financial statements. Getting credit approval for a loan is mind numbing. These are huge slow moving bureaucracies. Applicants have to go through all kinds of hoops to get funding and a 2-3 month turnaround is a very best case. Nothing is feasible within a month, so as small businesses fail up and down the state, where are the real time solutions?

In an open letter emailed to Mayor Garcetti on 3/26, with copies sent to the LA City Council and an assortment of media outlets, Venice Beach resident Soledad Ursua offered some practical suggestions to bring immediate relief to beleaguered small business owners and landlords. In particular:

1) Suspend LA County Property Taxes due April 10th. The average homeowner and small business owner is facing a $2,000 to $10,000 property tax bill. Cash is king during an economic crisis. What we need now more than ever, is to hold the cash we would otherwise pay the County of LA, in order to navigate this economic storm. As our business partner, you must take a haircut in revenue, just as you expect all of us to do so. What is the point of the US Government sending out cash checks to individuals if we must only hand that over to LA City?

2) Suspend all Sales Taxes for the next 6 months- Why on earth are we paying 9.5% in LA City sales taxes on essential goods why we try to stay alive – groceries, prescriptions, toilet paper, gas, bottled water, etc. Perhaps you could lift sales taxes only on small businesses to incentivize Los Angeleños to shop local and keep our small businesses solvent during this crisis?

These are reasonable suggestions. The chances they will be implemented are slim.

Venice Beach. (Photo: used with permission of Venice resident)

Anyone living in Venice Beach or communicating with Venice Beach residents has abundant video and photographic evidence that while residents hunker down inside their homes, right now, their streets remain occupied by a roving army of unaccountable homeless, and it’s getting worse. 

For example, ever since COVID-19 came along, the weekly street cleaning has stopped. The consequences are predictable; what had been a string of tents is turning into semi-permanent structures. The shantytowns of Guatemala City have nothing on Rose Avenue in Venice Beach.

There is no doubt that the authorities at all levels of government are dead serious in their efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19. This national health emergency has preempted constitutional rights that allow ordinary Americans freedom of movement. It ought therefore to have enough teeth to preempt whatever misguided ordinances and court rulings have created the addiction, mental health, and crime crises we face, which masquerade as a homeless and housing crisis.

Mayor Garcetti: If and when COVID-19 spreads in a second wave, with unaccountable homeless populations as the vector, don’t blame the president. If a national health emergency doesn’t give you the legal tools and funds to clean up the streets of Los Angeles, nothing will.

California’s laws to-date have made it a rational choice for many individuals to live on the streets. They can live in some of the most beautiful places in the world – the California coast – with free food, free shelter, with almost no rules to regulate their conduct.

Two videos of Rose Ave in Venice Beach:

Venice Beach Rose Ave – what social distancing.mov (1)

Venice Beach Rose Av – Cops Ignore

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40 thoughts on “While Venice Beach Residents Under Lockdown, Homeless and Encampments Grow and Thrive

    1. What we need is to open up an honest dialogue on revisiting operational and fully staffed mental health institutions. These “free” homeless should be rounded up and forced into supervised places that can effectively treat them isolated from everyday people. That focus group could also include drug addicts and alcoholics, and the criminally insane. Then attention could be turned to those who have simply “fallen through the cracks“; ( people who lost their jobs, or who need help finding affordable housing, and so on who have no underlying mental, addiction or serious criminal issues). The homeless issue is a multifaceted, complicated issue and no “one size fits all” solution will ever fix it.. Most people want to work if given a little hand up. They are the ones who desperately need to be separated from those who are sick in one way or another. We need to lift up the layers suffocating them by those that have checked into another reality- another world of which none of us “ normies” are a part and save them from the streets of certain ruin. And It’s way past time we did!!!

      1. Ok, so round them up and force them??? Now you got even a bigger problem. I’ve been there, have you? Picture this: a building locked down, filled with 2000 drunk, thriving, drug addicted, mentally ill people who were forced to be there?????? We can’t even get people to work at Burgerking for 20 buck an hr. Who on earth do you think will want to work there? And if so, let just bring back…crazy houses, cause that’s what it would be.

  1. We need a General Patton on all the serious decline in citizens’ health protections and security protection.

    1. I don’t think people believe the hoax theory. Celebs are rich why would accept money to say they had a virus they didn’t really have. Is that celeb psyche? How about the many athletes who have it, are they being paid too? Anything is possible but not everything is likely. I’m skeptical about things too most of the time but not in this case.

      1. Hey Rexx, I don’t think it’s a hoax either but as for the celebs and athletes it was just like a cold to them and some like a regular flu. Notice the media doesn’t show how there doing now??? One day and over it.

    2. Where are you from? I’m from Sacramento, CA and personally know five people that have had it. Four being my sister in law’s sister’s entire family. Retry your hoax theory.

  2. Glad to see this appropriately fierce article. At this point I doubt most people who comment here need to be told, but can’t help saying it anyway, that the vagrant chaos in Venice that is allowed to go unabated and its contrast to the lock-down of law-abiding residents there tells us everything we need to know about the real intentions of L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, et al. (His local emissary in this, by the way, is L.A. Councilman Mike Bonin, 11th Council District.)

    This particular situation in Venice of “lawlessness adjacent to lock-down” — by itself — proves the truth of the assertions of Edward Ring in the Homeless Industrial Complex. It also shows the huge stake such politicians inexplicably have in the opposite and contradictory scenarios of homelessness without solution and lock-down without end. And finally, it shows that, for them, this opportunity is not really about protecting the public from CV-19.

  3. The homeless are the perfect hosts for the virus. Weak immune system, out in the cold, sharing pipes and needles, not showering or washing hands, they don’t know about the virus and even if they do, they don’t even care. They are all over the streets of Venice as if there is no virus.

    1. At what point do the Venice residents catch Caronavirus from the homeless population and sue the government/LAPD for not enforcing federal and state ordinances?

  4. Not cool in the least bit! Spineless, nutless Garcetti expecting any real leadership from him is a pipe dream.

  5. Thanks for this honest reporting Katy and it’s about time that the truth was told about the street population here in Venice. A lot of misplaced sympathy for people who just want to live defiantly without rules. At the moment the new shelter opened there was a brief moment when a special enforcement zone was inaugurated and measures were taken to clear the streets. Then the covid hit and enforcement stopped.

  6. Mayor Garcetti needs to grow a pair. He’s essentially useless. He’s done nothing but self serve and somehow manage to focus on his acting career whilst we the taxpaying small business owners and residents suffer at the hands of the blight he has created in his failure to act though he was told thousands of times prior to COVID19 what needs to be done to solve the situation. He has stripped his police department of all authority to be more than meter maids (no offense to meter maids) and thusly has entirely foresaken his constituents, housed and unhoused. My fear is that he and Mike Fuerer will forget about prescriptive easement law, etc. while they let this situation continue. From a planning standpoint, this is almost negligent reverse/inverse condemnation and reverse gentrification. Not to sound conspiracy theory, but typically when a City condemns property at a purchase price of 1.5 x the fair market value, they wait for prices to drop and then bam….they swoop in and take it. So if you parlay that into what’s happening to Venice Beach and other areas of Los Angeles, this is what it’s coming to while the City sat on 7,500 properties they already owned for years trying to make a profit by selling them rather than helping the homeless. I worry for the homeless. Truly I do, particularly in a time such as this with COVID 19 running rampant throughout the world. Thanks for having the strength to stand up and write this article Katy.

  7. In regard to Seth’s comment, yes, I actually do know someone who has it who’s been a long time friend and engineering colleague of mine (Mayor of Palos Verdes). I know for fact he’s not getting paid to say that.

  8. Hope all of you commenting are aware of the first failed recall of Newsom – not sure where we stand with Garcetti but if it fails – we can start over again because things need to change and it will change once we unite. Hopefully we can get recall number 2 going and show these polits that we are tired of their left leaning antics ruining our neighborhoods – their ways are not working. We need the law to be enforced – homeless or not. I lived in Venice for several years and glad that I got out. I feel bad for those paying high rent or mortgages for the neighborhood to be filled with homeless. BAN TOGETHER – do something drastic like hiring a big law firm to sue the city and state.

  9. So the foreigners and rich gentrified the area and made housing astronomical are now mad that there are homeless on the street? Where did you think the locals would go when you took their homes? Yes I’m front of yours !!

    1. You mean politicians and government officials who are engineering a situation like this one to worsen it, by ignoring violent, addicted, criminal vagrants in a previously quiet residential neighborhood so that those areas can eventually be called “blighted” due to the politicians own actions, and valuable real estate such as Venice Beach can be then taken over through eminent domain and then re-sold to build luxury hotels and luxury housing like a real-life game of Monopoly? That’s one of the ways politicians have enriched and will enrich themselves, as Edward Ring has pointed out. See “Gathered for the Feast at the Hotel California.” Sure hope when that happens you will call it “government-caused gentrification” or similar instead of blanket-blaming “the rich.”

  10. I have worked in the homeless area for years. I know the homeless problem more than most. I’ve been attacked several times. Spear ( they let him out of jail the next day ) chain,meat cleaver and of course spit in my face. Your article is spot on as to what is really happening here. At this point, if you don’t get stabbed by a homeless drug addict. It now looks like we will have a large group providing a “Hotspot” to infect you, wife or your kids. Mind you thats with a deadly virus ! Again this article tells the TRUTH ! Thank you !

  11. A lot of the homeless in venice are travellers just wanting to live a simple life. Yes they have junkies, runaways, crazies and a bunch middle age to old hippies.. Tents are normally taken down daily. Cant speak for now because I’m not there. A lot of the things you said about the homeless community in venice is untrue.. on a normal day cops are always watching, so the criminals can only do so much. I lived In a tent for a few years in venice. I know the people and how it is .

    1. hahahahahaha – get real –
      now there pulling out BBQ’s, and easy chairs –
      wake up A-hole – none of these comment are untrue

  12. I have the plan to end homelessness but no one really cares. If NGOs and developers are making millions off the plan, its no good. If you want to look at it send me a request to JD@troyballfoundation.org. Its quite simple and it will end all homelessness within one year, not 10.

  13. Cynicism an inclination to believe that people are motivated purely by self-interest.
    The photo gallery showing digs of rootless mistakes upon the sandy beaches of Venice, hmm, hmmm, hmmmmmm.
    “Slum By The Sea”, developer 1950s Venice. News to me. This is where grew-up, educated, but I didn’t know 6th and Bay St was wrong side of tracks where we lived.
    “Thumb One’s Nose At” a flout of the wearers of $500.00 shoes who stirred the pot of great change to the common people, to accomplish causes of bring about to cause to happen as a consequence vilifying humans. More’s the pity for CV19 it tin types ‘Crony Capitalism’s’ Gains’, forty years of pink slips, eviction notice, etc., Directly on the state beach.

  14. I had not been to Venice Beach since 2018, today I visited and was astounded to see exactly what you describe in the article. I agree with the points you bring up; this is a growing culture of lawlessness.

  15. This article is spot on! The same thing is happening all over. Harbor City and Wilmington are being invaded by homeless and RVs parked in neighborhood streets. They take over sidewalks with their tents and belongings. Eventually the stench permeates the surrounding area. Meanwhile I can’t let my children out into my own backyard because the smell of feces and weed drifts into our yard. But weed is legal and the homeless are protected. When did the homeless have more rights than law abiding- tax paying citizens? What is it going to take to prevent safe, decent, places from being overrun by homeless? We don’t need skid rows all over our cities. I thought moving away from LA and paying higher rates for housing would at least provide the opportunity for a better life. We don’t deserve this. I just want a safe, quiet, place to call home.

  16. Was at Venice yesterday, its gross, cant fix homeless, until you fix the drug problem, CA has a very high rate of people being on drugs. I live in high end area, we have been having a lot of break in…, well dont come to my house, I got three big Pits’

  17. I’ve always been a tree hugging lefty but we need to sweep the streets of homeless !!! This is ridiculous – we pay exorbitant taxes to live in a hellish mental ward run wild. It’s filthy and frightening. I lived in beautiful Venice until the homeless robbed me and chased me out of my high rent home. We need mental wards for the mentally ill and the drug addicts etc need to be arrested and pushed off the streets. No sleeping and camping on public sidewalks. It’s a horror show. Even my lefty friends tried to make a documentary of the homeless and it turned out they all refused to take shelter when offered. We need to take back California – the California we are paying out the nose for. The California that had the best school system in the country. More Homeless are coming here from other states. What can we do to stop this nightmare?

  18. Why don’t we get these homeless to camp In front of Garcetti’s mansion? I notice there are no tent cities in his neighborhood. Anyone who is offended By this article or commentary please take a walk on what used to be the Venice boardwalk and is now a scene from Dante’s inferno.

  19. So what would you like to do? Open businesses to people who refuse to wear simple masks and social distance just because there are homeless who have nothing left to lose but their lives? You want to fine the homeless, or arrest them? ICU beds are full in the county and half the locals refuse to follow basic precautions….so let’s just open it all up. The funeral homes can’t keep up.

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