Wednesday, August 8, 2012

City Enabling "Skid Row" at Venice Beach While It Cleans Up Downtown Parks

Press Release                                          

VSA Documents Blatant Unequal Enforcement of
City of Los Angeles’ Park Ordinances

Public Nuisance and “Skid Row” Conditions Result in the Venice Beach Recreation Area

(Venice, CA/8-8-12)  The Venice Stakeholders Association today released a letter to City officials which documents that the City of Los Angeles is blatantly engaged in unequal enforcement of city park ordinances, which has resulted in “Skid Row” conditions along the once popular Venice Boardwalk.

The letter, prepared by attorney John Henning for the VSA, shows the pristine condition of City Hall Park, once the site of a large “Occupy LA” encampment, and LAPD Headquarters park, and compares them to the Venice Beach Recreation Area where there is frequent use of banned camping equipment and trash dumps along the Boardwalk.

“LA’s politicians spent over a million dollars to restore their City Hall Park and are enforcing every park law to keep it attractive,” VSA president Mark Ryavec said, “but along Venice Boardwalk, the Department of Recreation and Parks and the LAPD allow campers to violate a slew of city laws against storing personal property on park land and the use of banned camping equipment.”

The result is that squatters have taken over the park from residents and visitors, many of whom do not feel safe using the park, the neighborhood leader said.

For example, Henning notes in the letter: “…occupying a sleeping bag or bedroll within a City park for any purpose is forbidden by City ordinance. Specifically, the phrase “for any purpose” is unequivocal and strips the ordinance of any requirement that a violator have the specific intent to use the sleeping bag or bedroll for lodging or living accommodation as opposed to recreation.” 

“Yet Rec. and Parks staff and the LAPD allow the wide use of sleeping bags in the park on a daily basis,” Ryavec said.

“These conditions are alarming to residents and clearly having a negative affect on visitors, who frequently complain about being harassed on the Boardwalk and fearful of bringing small children to the beach in this part of Venice,” Ryavec explained.

The Henning letter notes that a lawsuit could be brought under the California Civil Code to abate the public nuisance the City is now allowing at Venice Beach.