VENICE (CBSLA) — Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti got an earful Wednesday at the the latest community showdown over a citywide project to house homeless people.
Overwhemingly, the sentiment was once again, “Not here.”
This time, it was in Venice, where one of the planned A Bridge Home shelters for the homeless is slated for development on an unused, 3-acre Metro lot on Sunset and Main. Opponents of the proposed shelter held red placards reading, “STOP DUMPING ON VENICE,” despite the fact one such facility is planned for each of L.A.’s 15 council districts.
They seemed to criticize the mayor, as well as Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore and Councilman Mike Bonin, who represents the area.
Extra police were on hand, as the discussions about this temporary shelter have become tense in the past.
“Are you planning to do anything to stop, you know, the increase in homelessness, or is this just a welcome sign for the rest of the country?” asked one woman.
“Look for a more appropriate site,” resident Mark Ryaveck told CBS2 News. “We are the only site out of all the ones that the city is looking at that’s surrounded on four sides by residences. We already have a problem with break-ins and assaults and harassment and public defecation and urination.”
Ryaveck added he did not have any objection to housing the homeless, but that this “experiment” should not take place there.
“You don’t put homeless shelters near elementary schools, you know? You don’t put the most volatile next to our most vulnerable, our kids,” said another man.
Not everyone present at the town hall was against the project, however. Outside, homeless advocates held a candlelit vigil with signs reading “BEDS NOT SIDEWALKS.”
“This has to work for everybody. Whether you’re for it or against it, if it fails, our community fails,” said one man.
“If you read about the project, there will be security, there will be people who take care. There are going to be social workers,” one woman told CBS2.
Garcetti pointed the success of the recently opened El Pueblo facility near Placita Olvera in Downtown L.A. as an example of what could be done.
Vocal opposition to the shelters has been fairly successful in other neighborhoods. In May, hundreds of people crowded Wilshire Boulevard to protest the site proposed for Koreatown. City Council President Herb Wesson, who represents the area, subsequently gave an impassioned speech about the need for a shelter at a new location, saying, “We are driving past homeless people, and we’re not seeing them! When that happens, that is the end of our humanity, the end of our humanity, and that we cannot do.”