The arrest of the alleged Surfside shooter, who was living on the sidewalk across from residences on Grand Boulevard in Venice, refocuses on the need for the city to return to strict enforcement of laws prohibiting sidewalk camping and adoption of a new rule banning storage of personal possessions within 300 feet of residential property.
"The VSA has noted for years that within the homeless population there are lethal individuals, as we have just seen in the Surfside incident," Mark Ryavec, VSA president said. "The city's current lack of enforcement of existing laws allows these folks to live right next to families throughout the city."
"This is not a risk any family should have to take," Ryavec said, "and in this instance, it is being forced on us by the city's lack of action and concern."
The city long ago admitted that it has met the terms of the Jones Settlement, i.e., the construction of 2500 units of permanent, supportive housing. This milestone allows the city to return to enforcement of the ordinance banning sitting, lying or sleeping on a city sidewalk or park 24 hours a day as long as enforcement is preceded by some form of shelter offer, such as a motel voucher, shelter bed, shared housing, etc.
As U.S. District Judge David Carter showed in the clearing of a three-mile stretch of the Santa Ana River, enforcement, social services and housing offers can be provided "humanely and with dignity" in the process of removing problematic encampments.
The city must move forward, with the resources now provided by Measure H, to offer social services and some form of housing - vouchers, shelter beds, shared housing, bus tickets to safe family members, etc. - to clear all encampments that are within 300 feet of residences.
Similarly, the city should amend the ordinance that limits personal storage on city property (sidewalks, parkways, and parks) to 60 gallon bins to prohibit leaving any personal property within 300 feet of residences at any time.
"Apparently attorneys for the homeless have accepted that the city can bar people living in vehicles from parking at any time near schools or parks or next to residences at night," Ryavec said. "This has left them free to park at night on commercial streets."
"It is far more important that the city extend this precedent to establishing a 300 foot buffer between encampments and piles of possessions, on one hand, and families, on the other hand," the Venice leader said.
The residents across from the encampment on Grand Boulevard have reported to the LAPD frequent verbal harassment, intimidation, early morning and late night noise including foul language frightening to children, threats of fire bombing, and defecation and urination on their property.
"The Surfside shooter, who apparently has a hair-trigger, could just as easily have shot up a home in response to a call for the campers to quiet down at night," Ryavec said, "with many more people injured or killed."