On April 29 VSA's attorney Jeff Lewis issued another letter to city officials again noting the extreme fire risk inherent in the city's tolerance of transient camping near structures, pointing to Judge David Carter's sweeping order granting a preliminary injunction compelling the City to address the homeless issue in a meaningful way.
Carter's order – which has inexplicably been appealed by the City – cited increased fire risk caused by the City’s inaction regarding housing the homeless. (LA Alliance for Human Rights v. Los Angeles, Case No. 2:20-cv02291, April 20, 2021 Order, pp. 51-52.)
“Fires are breaking out with distressing frequency, threatening both housed and unhoused populations,” Carter wrote (Order, p. 51.) Judge Carter concluded that the “ever-worsening public health and safety emergency demands immediate, life-saving action.” (Order, p. 66.)
Lewis wrote in the new letter, "To the extent that the City Attorney is advising the City that it may rely on statutory
and common law immunities to continue to ignore this fire risk, I urge you to seek an updated legal
opinion – in Closed Session – regarding the City’s potential liability in light of Judge Carter’s
findings that the City is creating a fire risk that did not previously exist.
Fire Damage at 129 Clubhouse Ave.
"Moreover, to the extent that the City’s appeal of Judge Carter’s order will perpetuate the failed policies regarding the homeless and fire risk to my clients, we ask that you reconsider that decision to appeal and consider whether working with LA Alliance for Human Rights might be a better use of the City’s resources and taxpayer funds."
Ten property owners representing 22 Venice properties, most along or near the Boardwalk, have now joined the effort to call for the city to adopt buffer zones between transient encampments and structures to avoid more tragedies in the future from fires.
(Photo credit: Venice Current)