Tuesday, May 19, 2015

From Yo Venice May 15 Edition

Another Tragedy in Venice

By Mark Ryavec

What can we learn from the tragic death of 29-year old Brendon Glenn, a beach dweller shot to death in a confrontation with police officers in front of the Townhouse bar on Windward Avenue on May 5th?

Well, first that Brendon was yet another traveler, from Troy, New York, who was attracted to the easy life of sun, panhandling and booze on the Venice Boardwalk.  Since the homeless all have cell phones and occasionally laptops, too, the message that it’s all a great party here in Venice is constantly circulating coast to coast. 

Next is that Brendon was a troubled young man, struggling to find a job while still in the grip of an alcohol addiction.  He told his counselor at the Teen Project on Windward the day he died that he had started drinking at 11 AM.

While all his friends on the Boardwalk are quick to remark on his friendliness, he was combative that night, getting into a physical altercation with the doorman at the Town House before the police tried to restrain him.

Some want to read the shooting as part of the larger national portrait of police violence towards Black men.  I see it within the continuum of violent incidents stemming from the lawless, “Lord of the Flies” atmosphere along the Boardwalk and elsewhere in Venice.

Here in our beach-side community a supposedly civilized society allows 741 homeless people – the unofficial count from earlier this year – to live on the town’s parks, streets and alleys and does almost nothing about it.

The result is ugly and shows the dysfunction of our city and county governments which have for too long been more focused on the care and feeding of its employees than meeting its core mission, which is the care of its residents and the indigent.

Let’s tally the victims of this neglect since just August 2013, less than two years. 

A transient living in his car in Venice takes offense at a drug deal gone bad on the Boardwalk and mows down 17 pedestrians with his car, killing Alice Gruppioni, an Italian visitor in Venice on her honeymoon.  The driver is now on trial.

A transient is caught on CCTV beating the crap out of another beach dweller with a chair.

In April of last year a young mother and two children barely escape a home invasion at 4:30 AM on Horizon as the homeless invader breaks through a glass door pane, covers their apartment in blood from his cuts and in his PCP rage pulls two bolted sinks off the wall of the bathroom. 

Over several months four more home invasions follow within six blocks of the Horizon break-in, committed by campers living along Venice Beach

In October of 2014 a transient sleeping on a walk street attacks Robert DiMassa because Robert’s service dog had urinated near where the transient was sleeping.  The damage to DiMassa was two broken ribs, severe abrasions on his legs, two black eyes and a bloodied lip.  The culprit was never caught.

Then, in an incident similar to the events that took Brendon Glenn’s life, a transient went into the Cow’s End and demanded money from the patrons.  The owner, Clabe Hartley, asked him to leave, and the fellow attacked Clabe, wrestled him to the floor and bit off his finger tip.

In Brendon’s case, he was harassing Townhouse patrons and passersby and the doorman tried to back him off.  One report says he had earlier gone into the bar to panhandle and been evicted by the doorman.  Later Brendon picked a fight with the doorman, which led to the police getting involved. 

What’s the common denominator in all these incidents?  The instigator was a transient.

There is more to learn from all of this.

Why are there so many homeless in Venice and what’s being done to help them get off the street? 

Well, the sunshine helps bring them here from all over the nation.  (That’s why many of us are here, too.)  Then there’s a slew of short-sighted court decisions and legislation that makes it much easier to live out in the open in California, and in Los Angeles in particular.  This is compounded by a squishy, homeless-loving City Attorney, Mike Feuer, who had advised the LAPD to not enforce the City’s “no camping, no camping equipment and no encampments” rules (which are enforced in other city parks like the one next to City Hall).

Then there is the time honored tradition of giving complete responsibility of any area in the City to the councilmember (in this instance Mike Bonin).  The result is that the Mayor and City Council have washed their hands of any responsibility for Venice despite it being a phenomenal tax generator for the City and the primary park/beach destination in Los Angeles.  For example, Griffith Park has fewer visitors and yet gets park rangers, but not Venice.  A recent proposal by the Venice Neighborhood Council to add a Rec. and Parks Department superintendent, accountable for management of the Venice Beach Recreation Area, to the City budget was ignored by Mayor Garcetti.

At the recent LAPD community listening session on the shooting there were two notable absences: Mayor Garcetti and County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl.  Their absence is also reflected in the dearth of City and County services.  Other than the $350,000 that the County gives to the St. Joseph Center annually to focus on moving the 40 homeless most likely to die on Venice streets (or parks) to housing and services, there is no County or City financial support to provide any relief to the other 700 homeless folks living here (other than meager general relief which some receive).  There are no counselors from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, who can arrange housing for our homeless.  There is no funding for the Teen Project, which must depend on donations.  There is no funding for People Helping the Homeless (PATH), which provided critical services and housing to the homeless when Bill Rosendahl was councilman.

So, Venice continues to be abandoned, with just a few LAPD officers to contain the uncontainable.  The situation reminds me of Los Angeles’ early years as a wild, ungoverned frontier outpost.  And as everyone knows, people get harmed or killed fairly easily in such an environment.
____________
Ryavec, a 29-year resident of Venice, is president of the Venice Stakeholders Association, which is suing the City and County of Los Angeles for maintaining a dangerous public nuisance along the Venice Beach Recreation Area.


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Drain the Swamp, Mr. Bonin

Breaking News – Fatal Shooting on Windward Avenue at Venice Beach

The Venice victim tally since August 2013

  • Deranged transient living in his car in Venice mows down 17 pedestrians on Boardwalk with his car and kills young Italian woman in a rage over being ripped off in a drug deal gone bad.
  • Transient brutally assaults resident Robert DiMassa on walk street because DiMassa's service dog urinated on the sidewalk near where the camper was sleeping.
  • Five home invasions - four by wasted, mentally ill transients - in a six block area centered on Windward and Riviera.
  • Clabe Hartley's fingertip bitten off by transient on Washington Blvd.
  • Homeless Jose Gonzalez dies April 19th after suffering a blow from transient Thomas Glover on Abbot Kinney at California. 
  • And now the death of transient Brendon Glenn on May 5th in altercation with LAPD on Windward. 
Message to Mike Bonin and Eric Garcetti:

Drain the swamp:  stop the camping on Venice Beach, stop the storage of tons of transients' stuff on Venice Beach, and bring back the City's ordinance banning "sitting, lying, sleeping" on sidewalks.

Or more people - residents, visitors and transients - will be harmed in Venice by the lawless conditions the City has allowed to exist here.


http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Person-Gunned-Down-Police-Venice-Beach-302723591.html 

Friday, May 1, 2015

VSA Opposes Legalization of Street Vending on City Sidewalks

Today the VSA forwarded the following letter to the City Council's Economic Development Committee, which is considering a proposal to legalize street vending on City sidewalks throughout the City.  The VSA called for any street vending to be by local option of adjacent property owners.



Venice Stakeholders Association
                                                                                                           
May 1, 2015

Councilman Curren Price, Chair,
and Members, Economic Development Committee
Los Angeles City Council
City Hall
200 N. Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA  90012

Re:  Street Vending CF#13-1493


Dear Councilman Price and Members of the Committee:

I am writing to indicate the opposition of our organization to the proposal to legalize street vending on the City’s sidewalks and in its parks.

Venice residents already face extreme challenges from vending in the Venice Beach Recreation Area and from the complete occupation at many places in Venice of its sidewalks by transients.

Vendor wares are continuously strewn about and/or stored in the Venice Beach Recreation Area (our beach park) and in the adjoining commercial and residential areas.

Farther inland, sidewalks along entire blocks are at times impassable to pedestrians, even though these blockages violate the American with Disabilities Act.

The lack of current enforcement by the LAPD and parks officials of existing ordinances has significantly degraded the quality of life of nearby Venice residents to the extent that our organization and several individual plaintiffs are currently suing the City of Los Angeles and County of Los Angeles for maintaining a dangerous public nuisance along the Venice Beach Recreation Area.  The noxious behavior of so-called “artist” vendors represents one aspect of this nuisance. Based on the past inability the LAPD and City Attorney’s staff to enforce regulations governing these existing “artist” vendors and the frequent practice of these vendors to sell drugs under the guise of their artistic offerings, we are very concerned that the city will not be able to adequately enforce and regulate street vending if it is legalized.


The Venice Stakeholders Association is dedicated to civic improvement.  The VSA supports slow growth, protection of the limits of the Venice Specific Plan, neighborhood safety, better traffic circulation, increased parking for residents,
neighborhood beautification projects, historic preservation, habitat restoration and protection of coastal waters.
www.venicestakeholdersassociation.org/310-392-4843




We join with other neighborhood groups that have opposed legalization of street vending due to a host of problems associated with the proposal:

  • Overlapping regulatory responsibility and gaps in enforcement between departments

  • Increase in trash and food waste and offensive odors

  • Lack of any limits on locations and/or zones where permitted

  • Lack of City resources/staff for enforcement of permit compliance

  • Obstruction of public right-of-way and loss of scarce sidewalk space for pedestrian and handicap use.

  • Potential for ADA violations

  • Lack of hot water for food vendors for hand washing

  • Unfair competition with brick and mortar stores


We would propose that any proposal to legalize street vending include affirmative opt-in language; i.e., all Los Angeles communities would be automatically excluded from the ordinance until a community affirmatively opted in.  The opt-in would be at the block level, not the neighborhood council level; i.e., the property owners on any block proposed for street vending or the property owners adjacent to any park proposed for vending would have to indicate approval by 2/3rds signatures upon City petitions for opt-in to occur. 

I would ask that this letter be placed on Council File #13-1493

Thank you for your consideration of our views on this matter.


Sincerely,

Mark Ryavec

Mark Ryavec, President

cc:  Mayor Eric Garcetti, Councilman Paul Krekorian, Councilman Jose Huizar, Councilman Gilbert Cedillo, Councilwoman Nury Martinez and Councilman Mike Bonin



Thursday, April 23, 2015

Never a dull moment in Venice....

In Venice we have 741 homeless individuals living on our streets and in our parks, many of whom are mentally unstable and/or drug addicted, we have home invasions, car break-ins, and assaults on residents, and this is what gets media attention:

http://www.scpr.org/programs/airtalk/2015/04/23/42534/venice-considers-letting-women-sunbathers-go-tople/

Sunday, April 5, 2015

VSA Opposes SB 608, the So-called "Right to Rest" Bill

The VSA has submitted the letter below to the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee opposing SB 608.

Venice Stakeholders Association

                                                                                                            April 6, 2015                                                            
Senator Jim Beall
Chair, Senate Transportation and Housing Committee
Members, Senate Transportation and Housing Committee
State Capitol, Sacramento, CA  95814

Re:  Opposition to Senate Bill 608 (Senator Carol Liu)


Dear Senator Beall, dear Members of the Committee:

I am writing on behalf of our organization to urge you to reject Senate Bill 608, the so-called “Right to Rest” bill.

The Venice Stakeholders Association is composed of residents in Venice, California, dedicated to improving neighborhood safety in our beach community.

We led the effort to remove over 250 RVs and campers from our community that previously occupied the curbs in front of our residences on a full-time basis, with all the problems attendant to the use of residential streets as an urban campground.

We recently sued the City and County of Los Angeles for maintaining a dangerous public nuisance along the Venice Beach Recreation Area, which resulted from the City and County’s failure to enforce the Beach Curfew and the ban on camping in City parks.  We also have lobbied for the reinstatement of enforcement of the City’s ordinance banning lying, sitting, sleeping on public rights-of-way.

Our opposition to SB 608 is driven by the irrefutable evidence that within transient populations are individuals who are mentally ill, criminally prone, drug addled and tragically, on occasion, violent and/or lethal.

Due to the ill-advised Jones settlement and its limit on the Los Angeles Police Department’s ability to enforce the “No lying, sitting, sleeping” ordinance in Los Angeles between the hours of 9 PM and 6 AM, we have seen a dramatic increase in the transient population living on our streets and alleys in close proximity to residences.  This has been accompanied by a serious increase in crime, assaults and home invasions, with horrifying results.

As documented in the on-line exhibits, the six block area around my residence has experienced five home invasions since last April by transients living on public property in Venice

The Venice Stakeholders Association is dedicated to civic improvement.  The VSA supports slow growth, protection of the limits of the Venice Specific Plan, neighborhood safety, better traffic circulation, increased parking for residents,
neighborhood beautification projects, historic preservation, habitat restoration and protection of coastal waters.


VSA Opposition to SB 608….page 2

In one incident a homeless man dove through a glass door of a duplex at 4:30 a.m., made his way to the upstairs bathroom and tore two bolted sinks off the wall, spattering the room with blood. The tenants – a young mother and her children – escaped down a back staircase and called 911. Police later told the mother that the intruder’s Hulk-like strength suggested he was high on PCP.  Before the break-in neighbors had called LAPD to complain about a man shouting hysterically on their street, but since he’d done nothing more than that, the police did not even send a patrol car to investigate.

In another widely publicized home invasion last September, a deranged homeless man broke down the door of a home just before 9 a.m., and chased a half-dressed woman out her bedroom window and onto her roof. Again, LAPD missed a chance to prevent this. Just 30 minutes earlier, the intruder was in police handcuffs being questioned about yelling in public and attempting to climb the fence of an adjoining property. Yet the police, having been effectively neutered by homeless advocates and the courts, let him go because they had not caught him in the act of committing a crime.

Allowing transients greater rights to live right next to residences will only result in more harm to more residents, such as the rape and murder of the pregnant Ms. Eun Kang four blocks from my house by the mentally ill drifter Boneetio Washington, the assault on Robert Di Massa by a transient living on a walk street because Di Massa’s service dog had urinated nearby, or the recent incident in which a transient living on the streets in Venice bit off the fingertip of Clabe Hartley, the owner of a restaurant on Washington Boulevard.

SB 608 offers no increase in welfare benefits, no housing, no counseling, no transportation, no treatment and no more ease in committing mentally ill homeless to custody, so it does nothing to address the fundamental problems of the homeless, while assuring future harm to residents everywhere in the state.

Please reject this misguided proposal.  Thank you for your consideration.  

Sincerely yours,
Mark Ryavec
Mark Ryavec, President

Exhibits: 

1.  http://www.venicestakeholdersassociation.org/2015/01/anatomy-of-attack-on-venice-resident.html
2.  http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2015/02/03/familys-narrow-escape-from-      venice-home-invasion-sheds-light-on-public-safety-concerns/
3.  http://www.venicestakeholdersassociation.org/2014/12/reports-of-two-more-home-invasions-in.html
4.  http://www.venicestakeholdersassociation.org/2015/02/five-terrifying-home-invasions-in-10.html
5.  http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-ryavec-homeless-laws-sb-608-20150308-story.html

Friday, April 3, 2015

From Yo!Venice's First Print Edition: Is Charlie Beck a Climate-Change Denier?

Is Charlie Beck a Climate-Change Denier?

MARK RYAVEC
Yo! Venice Contributor




Do you think the LAPD should implement demand staffing that automatically 
puts additional officers in Venice when the temperature is predicted to go 
over 74 degrees?                             






PHOTO BY VENICEPAPARAZZI.COM

This might appear to be an odd question, but it
has significant implications for the safety of residents
and visitors in Venice.

Anyone who has lived here for the last three
decades, as I have, knows that the weather we have
been having is bizarre. Cool and rainy is the historical
weather in winter and early spring. But since
Jan. 1 we have had 18 days above 77 degrees and 10
days above 84 degrees. We hit 93 on March 14.

These conditions draw many of Los Angeles
County’s 10 million residents to the beach to cool
off, and a good proportion of them come to Venice.
Estimates range from 11 to 16 million visitors
annually. This causes a severe strain on public
safety, one that is apparently not understood at the
highest levels of the Los Angeles Police Department. 

 It appears that Chief Charlie Beck and his
management team do not accept that climate patterns
have changed and that visitor flow to Venice
has increased with it.

Two LAPD officers recently told me that on
these very hot days they are “slammed” and cannot
keep up with the situation. The huge increase in
visitors requires that they focus on gang suppression,
traffic violations, accidents, an increase in
crime, more radio calls, etc.

This distracts them from enforcing quality-of-life
ordinances that are important to residents, like
the ban on open alcohol containers in public,
harassment of residents, trespass on private property,
public defecation and urination, drug dealing,
illegal camping along Venice Beach and total
blockage of sidewalks by transient encampments, a
violation of the American with Disabilities Act.
This is because enforcing these laws will usually
take two officers off the beach for at least half a day
to transport and book the offenders. The Beach
Detail commander and officers have told me that
officers cannot in good conscience be absent from
Venice when the visitor numbers skyrocket.

The LAPD focus on visitors has other ramifications.
For example, a plan to fully enforce the 12-
5 am Beach Curfew and the ban on camping in the
Venice Beach Recreation Area – including an
LAPD presence in the Venice Beach Recreation
Area (VBRA) at 4 am – is on hold due to the diversion
of staffing to daytime hours. The result is that
the VBRA continues to be a powerful magnet for
transients from across the nation, including a percentage
of criminals, mentally ill and the drug-addled.

On a recent stroll along Venice Beach at
5 am I counted at least 26 people camping in tents,
lean-tos or out in the open in sleeping bags. (Due to
the poor lighting there may have been many more
that I could not see.) It only takes one of these disaffected
transients in a drugged-out state to lose it
and someone gets hurt or killed, as we saw with the
vehicle assault that left Italian newlywed Alice
Gruppioni dead and 16 people injured on the
Boardwalk less than two years ago. And as we witnessed
just recently when a transient bit off the tip
of the finger of Clabe Harley, the owner of the
Cow’s End restaurant on Washington Boulevard.
The transient had been harassing Harley’s customers.
When Harley moved in to defend his customers,
the transient attacked him – with his teeth.

As many Venetians know, Venice receives a
summer compliment of about 35 additional officers
starting with Memorial Day. (Some years ago,
when there were several incidents of gang-related
violence on the Boardwalk, the number was
higher). The purpose of the additional officers is to
cope with the huge increase in visitors drawn by
warmer weather and school vacations. And to prevent
gang conflicts that can quickly careen out of
control and cause harm to innocent bystanders.
With the very hot temperatures we’ve been
seeing, the LAPD should have followed the crowds
and implemented demand staffing that automatically
put additional officers in Venice when the
temperature is predicted to go over 74 degrees.

Captain Nicole Alberca, the new commander
of Pacific Division, told me recently that she had
requested additional staffing for hot days but been
told by LAPD headquarters to find the officers by
reassigning within Pacific Division. But the visitors
are largely from other parts of Los Angeles or the
County’s other 87 cities, not from just Pacific Division.
If the increased summer staffing is to address
the increase in visitors than logically Venice
deserves the increase whenever the temps go over
74 degrees. There is even a good argument that
County sheriffs should also be posted here since a
large number of visitors are not from the City of
Los Angeles but rather from other cities in the
County of Los Angeles or from points farther
away.

Captain Alberca acknowledged that when
thousands of our inland neighbors seek relief in
Venice from extreme temperatures, the LAPD
presence is very thin in comparison with the size of
the crowds and that attention to resident concerns
suffers.

We have long passed the time that City and
County leaders should have realized that Venice is
the most popular, free recreational destination in
Southern California and that it requires significantly
more police resources from both the City and
County whenever temperatures go up, which is
now happening more frequently due to climate
change.



Saturday, March 28, 2015

New Attack on Young Woman Outside the Townhouse on Windward

The lawless, "Lord of the Flies" atmosphere at Venice Beach claims another victim:

http://abc7.com/news/woman-beaten-with-skateboards-fists-in-venice-/578580/

One week a restaurateur has his fingertip bitten off by a transient, then a couple nights later sees three victims, a young woman in her late teens and two men, attacked in the street on Windward Avenue at Speedway.

The woman was hit over the head with a skateboard.

In videos circulating on social media and seen on news channels, an angry mob is seen rushing at the woman, one man hitting her as she lies helpless and screaming on the ground.

A witness can be heard on the video saying, "She just cracked her head open."


The young woman underwent surgery. Her jaw was broken and skull cracked. She is in a serious condition.