Wednesday, August 24, 2016

LA Times Opinion: The wrong way to fix homelessness in L.A

The wrong way to fix homelessness in L.A.


By Mark Ryavec, Jack Humphreville and Jay Handal


PROPOSITION H, on the November ballot in Los Angeles, is a well-intentioned but flawed $1.2-billion bond measure to fund the development of new housing for the homeless.

   When interest on the bond is figured in, the proposition will cost residents almost $2 billion, to be paid for in new taxes. Despite that massive expenditure, the region's homeless will not see new apartments for at least three years and the crucial services required to truly solve their problems will not be part of the deal.

   Although polls conducted in the spring indicate that more than 75% of voters support Proposition H, we suspect this reflects a lack of understanding that the bond will be paid for through an increase in the property tax.

   Because the tax increase is based on Proposition 13 reassessments, which differ dramatically by year of purchase, it will be   inherently unfair. The bulk of the burden will fall on those who purchased property in recent years or who have made recent additions to their homes. And because city rent control law prohibits passing on property tax increases, renters — even wealthy renters — will pay nothing.

   The inequities in the bond funding mechanism are just one reason to oppose Proposition H. Because bond money can only be used for land and buildings, the measure cannot and does not provide funding for the operation of homeless shelters, counseling domestic violence victims, or mental health and substance abuse treatment — the kinds of supportive services necessary to truly attack the problem of people sleeping in the streets.  

   Los Angeles County — not the city — is legally responsible for providing these kinds of services for the homeless.

   But so far, the county remains largely AWOL when it comes to finding a means to pay for the programs required to make Proposition H's “permanent supportive housing” functional.  

   Proposition H is also inadequate when it comes to oversight. The measure calls for a citizen committee to watch over the project, but the committee members will be appointed by the mayor and the City Council, which won't ensure the committee's independence. Nor are the members required to have specific expertise, such as construction management experience, and nothing in the measure would prevent representatives of the developers and nonprofits who stand to benefit from Proposition H from sitting on the committee.

   Instead of pushing Proposition H, the city should respond to the homelessness crisis with a rapid rehousing effort. It should create its own rent-voucher program to augment the tapped-out federal Section 8 program. And it could quickly convert existing structures such as motels, run-down apartments   and even commercial buildings to homeless housing.

   These efforts could be paid for without recourse to a bond and a property tax increase. The city’s special tax counsel estimates Los Angeles' revenue will increase by almost $600 million over the next four   years. If only a portion of those increases were earmarked for housing the homeless, existing buildings could be converted, rent vouchers could be supplemented and no new taxes would be necessary.

   Los Angeles could also attack homelessness by once again making use of its law against sleeping on sidewalks. A legal settlement — the Jones settlement — prevents the LAPD from moving people off the streets at night until the city increases its stock of permanent supportive homeless housing by 1,250 units. According to a report issued in November by the Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department, L.A. has more than met that requirement.  

   Now, to avoid a new legal challenge, police must simply offer a shelter bed before handing out a citation. But the law isn’t being put to use. Until it is, how will the city persuade the thousands of “service resistant” homeless to accept any new housing?

   Voters should reject Proposition H. It reflects a panicked rather than a reasonable response to the increase in homelessness in the city. It requires an unequal tax   increase, and without county funding for services, it won't solve the roots of the problem. City Hall and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors must in tandem commit to a better, fairer plan that can be implemented more quickly.

   MARK RYAVEC served as chief deputy assessor for Los Angeles County and is president of Venice Stakeholders Assn. JACK HUMPHREVILLE is the budget advocate for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council. JAY HANDAL is co-chair of the citywide association of Neighborhood Council budget advocates.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

ALERT: Send Message to Support VSA Resolution to Return to Enforcement of LAMC 41.18

Congratulations. We did it!  

We produced over 90 signatures on our petition to have the Resolution to return to enforcement of the City's "no lying, sitting or sleeping on a sidewalk" ordinance placed directly on the VNC agenda.

Now, we have to support the VNC in voting to approve this ground-breaking resolution.  The Board has to hear from all of you.

Please do three things:

1.  Send an email to that says:  I support the VSA Resolution to reinstate LAMC 41.18.

2.  It is absolutely critical to its passage that you attend the meeting at the Westminster Elementary School auditorium on Tuesday, August 16th.  The resolution will be heard later in the evening, probably after 9 PM.  I know this is a late hour, but if we ever have a chance to turn the clock back to having safe neighborhoods here in Venice, this is it.  We must get this passed by the VNC Board.

3.  Send this request for emails and attendance to all your friends and neighbors in Venice.

If possible, please make a $100 contribution to the VSA.  I have had to retain the counsel of attorney John Henning to prepare a letter to the VNC refuting a position paper submitted to the VNC by Councilman Bonin's deputy Taylor Bazley that gives an erroneous analysis of the Jones Settlement and the question of whether it will be satisfied if the City submits the list of 1,250 units of new permanent supportive housing units to the court. 

The VNC needs the guidance of our legal counsel to support an affirmative vote on the resolution - and the VSA has to pay for this legal counsel. You can donate using PayPal on the right of this page.

And join us at our hosted party on Sunday, August 14, 5-8 pm, to get to know your neighbors and talk more about improving Venice.  If you have not received the invitation send me your name and email address to

Call me if you have any questions at 310 871 6265. 

Many thanks,


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

VSA Gathering to Discuss Venice Issues on Sunday, August 14, 5-8 PM

Neighbors Getting Together to Improve Venice....

The VSA is hosting a summer gathering to discuss the following issues we are working on:

We will hear brief presentations on efforts to:

1. Preserve the residential zoning of the Oxford Triangle

2. Assure that any development on the Venice Blvd. Median lot is sensitive to the concerns of this residential neighborhood and that residents are involved in the process from the very beginning.

3. Clean up the the Boardwalk, walk streets, behind Ralph's, and 3rd and Rose, Hampton and Sunset.

4. Remove RVs and campers from around elementary schools.

5. Return the LAPD's ability to enforce the City's "no lying, sitting, sleeping on a sidewalk" ordinance 24 hours a day along with getting homeless into housing - if they want it.

Thanks to an anonymous donor who is underwriting the event, it will be catered by Oscar and Norma Hermocillo of Oscar's Cerveteca and Clutch.

If you support the initiatives above and have not yet received an invitation, please send your name, address and email address to:

or subscribe to the VSA by clicking on the subscribe button on the right.

This is an opportunity for neighbors to meet neighbors from other parts of Venice and to connect around shared concerns about our community.  

Please join us to meet other residents working to improve Venice.