Some Venice residents are complaining that as city budget cuts take police from streets and county homeless officials claim Skid Row's street dwellers are decreasing, crime and homelessness are on the rise in L.A.'s bohemian beach-side community.
Some crime has, in fact, been on the upswing in the area. Los Angeles police crime statistics (PDF) for Pacific Division, which includes Venice, show a 100 percent month-to-month increase in rape for February, and robberies are up 43 percent when comparing January 2010 to January 2009. Violent crime is up 28 percent for the same, January to January comparison.
The rape number can be misleading, however, because one rape was reported last month versus zero the month before -- resulting in a 100 percent increase. Robbery, however, is another story, and appears to be genuinely trending upward for the area that includes Venice, Westchester, Palms, Del Rey, Playa Vista, Playa Del Rey and parts of West L.A. and South Robertson.
Robbery, in fact, is up 32 percent so far this year. Car theft is up 11 percent for the same time frame. Other crimes, including homicide, rape and aggravated assault are down overall for the year so far.
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The blog Yo! Venice! has started a letter-writing campaign (spotted at Los Angeles Metblogs) that targets city Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Westside city Councilman Bill Rosendahl, and police officials.
"It is only by reporting and demanding that the LAPD and elected officials enforce existing laws that Venice may recover from the present situation it is in," the site states. "We can not ignore the safety issues that exist in Venice anymore."
The site presented a letter by a resident who calls himself as Steve G. as a model to emulate.
G. states that "puke on the sidewalks, 'homeless' people, addicts and RV dwellers harassing actual tax paying residents and tourists is simply unacceptable ... Mr. Mayor make a commitment towards some real solutions before its too late."