By Mark Ryavec
(In response to “Venice Needs More Cops,” news, Jan. 22; and “Homelessness and the Big Lie,” opinion, Jan. 15)
As a concerned resident living near the Venice boardwalk, I have to
ask: Have five home invasions happened since April in any other
six-block area of Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin’s district?
In his letter to Police Chief Charles Beck, Bonin agreed with the
Venice Stakeholders Association’s lawsuit that Venice is fundamentally
unsafe and under-policed. He has asked for more officers and that they
be permanently stationed here so they can learn our unique conditions: a
coastal park and major tourist destination next to a predominantly
residential community with a large, problematic and occasionally
dangerous transient population.
Bravo Mike! Better late than never.
The dangerous reality our councilman painted in his letter to Beck
has been underscored in my immediate neighborhood, four blocks from
Ocean Front Walk, by five home invasions since April committed by
transients camping in or near the Venice Beach Recreation Area.
The first saw a drug-fueled beach dweller dive through a glass door
on Horizon Avenue at 4:30 a.m. on April 8 and climb the stairs to the
tenant’s apartment, dripping blood along his path. He proceeded to the
bathroom where he tore two bolted sinks off the wall and was found, 25
minutes after the victim called 911, wrestling on the floor with the
shower curtain. Neighbors had called LAPD prior to the break-in
complaining about a hysterical and loud person on their street. The
police dispatcher asked if he had done anything other than being loud
and obnoxious, and the neighbors had to respond “no.” The LAPD did not
send a patrol car at that time, which could have prevented the traumatic
experience the young mother and children had to endure, running for
their lives down the back stairs, then to a neighbor’s across the
street, and later having to face their blood-covered home.
The second was the now internationally famous Sept. 26 break-in on
Riviera Avenue, where the drugged-out intruder (some 30 minutes earlier
in police handcuffs being questioned on the street, according to a
neighbor) forced a young actress out under her roof eave in her
sleepwear, where she called police. Her precarious position was
photographed by a passing neighbor, which went viral on the Internet.
After a 40-minute standoff, with the police below and the half-naked
woman cowering on the roof, firefighters arrived and helped the woman to
escape down a ladder.
The other three incidents were equally terrifying to the victims.
Two young men broke into a residence on Grand Boulevard in the middle of the night on July 18 while the young couple and their very small children were asleep, the mother told me.
On Oct. 4 on Rialto Avenue, neighbors rallied to defend a young woman
screaming that someone had broken into her home in broad daylight and
moved toward her with hands raised.
A young actor and his pregnant wife on Venice Boulevard were awakened
in the middle of the night on Nov. 29 by an addled young woman, known
to the police, who had climbed their fence and broken in.
On these pages a columnist recently suggested that I and others are
exaggerating the threat from the large transient population in Venice. I
would challenge anyone questioning the danger Venice residents
currently face to talk to any of these residents to understand the fear
they live in. The young mother in the first episode above now lives in
Santa Monica behind three locked doors.
Maybe this is what the columnist meant when she wrote that “People
come to Venice to be changed by Venice, not to change Venice.” This
young woman and her oldest child, who was old enough to know the danger
they were in, are certainly changed; they now live in fear.
This shibboleth, that those who choose to live in Venice must not try to change it, is fundamentally undemocratic.
I was born in Santa Monica, but my father’s career in the Navy sent
us out-of-state for 11 years. When we returned in 1961, residents had a
choice of voting in local elections for either conservative Republicans
or the even more conservative John Birchers. Fast-forward to the
construction of the Santa Monica Freeway bringing thousands of new
apartment units and their far more liberal inhabitants. In 30 years
Santa Monica went from far-right to the People’s Republic of Santa
Just as the new renters in Santa Monica many years ago had the right
to exercise their political values, the newcomers to Venice — frequently
families with young children — have every right to demand a safe
Also, after 28 years in Venice it’s ludicrous for anyone to contend
that I’m a newcomer or that I should just bend over and accept the
filth, crime and danger that frequents the boardwalk and its
The trend in Venice is on the side of those who demand public safety.
Those who dream of the Venice of 1970 may be the ones who should think
of moving on. Check the calendar: It’s 2015 and your time is up.
Mark Ryavec is president of the Venice Stakeholders Association.