Los Angeles Fires Opening Salvo at Culver City
Accuses Culver City of Pushing Homeless Across Border
June 13, 2019
In their attempt to deflect a major increase in the homeless population of Los Angeles, LA Councilmen Mike Bonin and Joe Buscaino have set the stage to sue Culver City and other local cities to take on the homeless problems of their city.
The two councilmen have directed Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer to explore "legal steps" they could use to allow the homeless to pitch tents and live on the sidewalks in Culver City.
According to a ruling by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, a homeless individual may not be held criminally responsible for sleeping on government property when no alternative shelter is available.
Bonin has accused Santa Monica, Culver City and El Segundo of failure to comply with that decision. His district touches all three cities.
"Instead of allowing people to sleep on their sidewalks, they are encouraging people, or compelling people, to move to the city of Los Angeles to do that," Bonin said.
Bonin's comments came on the heels of the latest news that Los Angeles had a 16% increase in its homeless population over the prior year even though it raised millions of dollars through Proposition HHH, which increased the sales tax to combat homelessness.
At a community meeting on racism last week, Culver City Councilman Alex Fisch provided statistics from the Culver City Police Department which refuted Bonin's claims. He stated the CCPD assisted many of the homeless in finding shelter and mental services and only 2 were arrested for drug possession.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Tevis Barnes, housing administrator for Culver City, said her office has "never received a single complaint of harassment by a person experiencing homelessness against the police department" during her 18 years on the job. Barnes also said that her city is in compliance with the 9th Circuit ruling.
Santa Monica officials also state they are in full compliance with the 9th Circuit decision by providing shelter and other services.
To put a spotlight on this issue, KABC radio host Larry O'Connor broadcast live from a homeless encampment under the 405 freeway at Venice Boulevard. People at the homeless encampment hurled insults at him and his crew. Things got so bad he had to move the broadcast down the street to a car repair shop. O'Conner pointed out that the Los Angeles side of Venice was packed with tents, people, human excrement and rats.
Every Tuesday, he said, the homeless have to pick up all their belongings so city sanitation crews can clean up the garbage, human waste, dirty needles and other filth. They disappear into the Mar Vista neighborhood along with the rats only to return when the crews leave.
Bonin claims the city of Los Angeles is obeying the court's orders, and the city across the street (Culver City) is not.
In Orange County, a Federal Judge ordered the county to provide temporary housing and removal of 700 people from the Santa Ana riverbed near Anaheim Stadium. They had to clean up over 400 tons of debris, 2 ½ tons of human waste and 14,000 needles.
In response to the recent announcement of the 2019 Homeless Count results, Los Angeles City Controller Ron Galperin urged City leaders to scrutinize every dollar used to combat homelessness and to ensure that spending is open and transparent to the public. He said, "homelessness is up 16 percent over last year in the City and 12 percent countywide - a total of more than 58,000 individuals."
Galperin issued the first analysis of Measure HHH spending in his recent Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, noting that the City spent only $4.5 million out of $86.4 million in available HHH funds in fiscal year 2018. In 2017, he released a report on homeless encampments that included recommendations such as making hygiene and storage facilities available, regularizing sanitation pick-ups in areas with concentrated homeless populations, and exploring the use of alternative housing models, like shared housing and micro-units.
"Angelenos need to know where their money is going and they deserve better results," said Galperin. "While we absolutely must continue to build more supportive, bridge and transitional housing, the City should also do what's possible to help alleviate suffering more immediately, reduce public health hazards and create better, more successful pathways out of homelessness."
The author Stephen Hadland can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org