Friday, February 12, 2016

VSA Opposes New "Right to Rest" Bill

February 12, 2016

 The Honorable Senator Carol Liu
California State Senate
State Capitol, Room 5097
Sacramento, CA 95814

RE:  SB 876 (Liu) Right to Rest Bill/Enforcement of Local Ordinances/ Notice of OPPOSITION

Dear Senator Liu:

I am writing on behalf of our organization to indicate our strong opposition to Senate Bill 876.

Venice Stakeholders Association represents residents concerned about public safety and quality of life in our town.  Venice is the reluctant host to roughly 1,000 transients who permanently camp right next to our residences in several locations in Venice.  With them come extreme and dangerous conditions including trespass, burglary, assaults, home invasions, car break-ins, drug dealing, loud late night noise, harassment, and inebriation, defecation and urination on both public and private property.

Your measure would exacerbate the current “Lord of the Flies” conditions we face by further tying the hands of local authorities, while not helping one homeless person get off of the street.

As I am sure you have noted, the City and County of Los Angeles are poised to allocate hundreds of millions of dollars to programs and housing to address the homeless crisis.  They may well be joined by the State in this effort with a billion or two in bond funds to construct housing for the homeless.

Removing the few remaining enforcement tools available to local police to protect residents from the deleterious effects of transient encampments will have the opposite effect of that which you intend; there will be little incentive or reason for transients to leave their encampments, friends and drugs to accept housing and services.   We know this because outreach staff from reputable homeless-serving agencies have repeatedly offered shelter beds, shared housing, and/or transportation to welcoming and safe family members out-of-state only to be rebuffed by those camping on our sidewalks and parks.  Even during the recent torrential rains there were many empty beds in local shelters.

I invite you to visit Venice and talk to residents and homeless serving organizations. We believe you would conclude that expanding further the rights of the homeless to occupy public space will only compound the problem.

Please find attached my op-ed article from the Los Angeles Times opposing your earlier version of the Right to Rest bill, SB 608, which cites just a few of the egregious crimes which have been committed by transients in our community.  At you can see the numerous assaults and home invasions perpetrated on Venice residents since deranged transient Nathan Campbell, living in his car in Venice, mowed down 17 pedestrians on the Venice Boardwalk with his car and killed a young Italian woman in a rage over being ripped off in a drug deal gone bad.


Mark Ryavec

Enclosure:  When the homeless problem is next door, Los Angeles Times, March 6, 2015