Left-wing politicians in Los Angeles are going to war with elected Sheriff Alex Villanueva over his threat to clear Venice Beach boardwalk of homeless camps by July 4, calling on him to allow “seasoned and knowledgeable agencies” to deal with the situation instead.
In June, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department began putting in place an incremental plan to reclaim the boardwalk, which has been overrun by homeless encampments, prompting local residents to complain about increasing violence and crime in the formerly popular tourist destination. Villanueva’s department planned to “compassionately reclaim and regulate public space” in response to the growing problem, which has seen numerous violent attacks, some of which have been documented on social media by the @BoardwalkVenice Twitter account.
The account has documented instances of violent crime against residents and tourists, as well as the homeless.
Boosting similar accounts, @BoardwalkVenice also alleges that LAPD Pacific police were ordered by Los Angeles City councilman Mike Bonin to selectively refuse to enforce laws on the boardwalk against homeless vagrants.
Sheriff Villanueva says that lax policies implemented by the city council have invited more homeless people from out of California to live in the boardwalk area.
In response, the city council released a statement condemning Villaneuva and accusing him of “engaging in political theater.”
“By inserting himself into the Venice Boardwalk re-housing efforts, the Sheriff is engaging in political theater in a community where LAPD has primary jurisdiction,” the statement reads. “The Sheriff’s Department was not invited by LAPD to provide services of any kind at the Boardwalk, and Sheriff Villanueva’s actions will only prolong the time it takes to move individuals into housing, an outcome that does not serve anyone in the community, housed or unhoused.”
The statement was endorsed by George Soros-backed District Attorney George Gascón, L.A. County Public Defender Ricardo García, and Bonin, among others Villanueva has dubbed as “the architects of failure.”
The city council claims that “research validates our approach” and that “studies demonstrate that outreach efforts led by armed law enforcement officers are less effective than outreach led by service providers with the expertise and experience to connect people to appropriate services and housing.”
Villanueva fired back, arguing that the “failed formula,” which has been in place for years, has failed to address the problem. He also raised questions about the transparency of the political organizations involved in promoting the city’s policies.
“Over the last 10 years, both the city and county of LA have spent in excess of $6.5B on homeless programs, only to see the unhoused population grow from 39K to +80K,” Villanueva tweeted on Tuesday. “It’s time to end the deception and the failed policies that only lead to more death and destruction to our beloved communities.”
“It’s time to regulate public space, not abandon it as we see in Venice, Hollywood, Olvera Street, and elsewhere,” Villanueva continued. “City of LA, it’s never too late to start doing things right. The LASD is committed to the safety of ALL communities in Los Angeles County.”
Councilman Bonin, who represents the Venice Beach area, said that a new policy aimed toward the homeless in the area will offer them “homes, not handcuffs.” He says the process will take roughly six weeks to complete and is being done in partnership with a non-profit organization called St. Joseph’s Center.