The stretch of 3rd where they sleep, between Sunset and Rose, is mostly populated by businesses and warehouses. But as the camp has grown, the sleeping bags and shopping carts have begun creeping out onto residential sidewalks...
... and freaking out the gentry who live in the expensive, highly coveted homes along iconic Rose Avenue.
Thus earning this transplant boardwalk the name "Skid Rose."
And for the moment, there's nothing anybody can do about it, announced L.A. City Councilman Bill Rosendahl on his blog yesterday (after the LA Weekly repeatedly asked for an interview on the subject for about a week).
"Due to two court cases ... the City's ability to enforce its laws has been significantly restricted," writes Rosendahl. The gist: Until 1,250 housing units are built for homeless folks in L.A., they're allowed to sleep on the sidewalk. The L.A. Housing Department informs Rosendahl that the city is still "several hundred" units short.
But cops and politicians are apparently circumventing those legal ramifications by nabbing the homeless at 3rd and Rose for other crimes.
Namely, resting or storing their possessions on the sidewalk between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 p.m., which is still illegal, says LAPD Lieutenant Paola Kreeft. Other drifters have been busted for drugs, violence, breaking into cars, etc.
Rosendahl begs residents to have a little compassion:
"The question should not be: should we allow people to sleep on the streets? The question must be: how do we provide people housing, services, and shelter so no one has cause to sleep on the street?"
But a big problem with the Venice "homeless" population is that many are free spirits by choice, and would never choose a shelter over the sea breeze. Homeless man and activist David Busch, pictured above with his in-tent toilet, told us recently that he felt the city was unfairly "lumping street vendors, hippies and beach travelers" into the same category as Venice's long-standing homeless population. Perhaps, he speculated, so that cops can uniformly kick them all out -- and the neighborhood can complete its transition to gentrified tourist trap.
Mark Ryavec, the fierce anti-homeless advocate who runs the Venice Stakeholders Association (and who recently posted his adversaries' home addresses online, causing a community flamewar), says that a brigade of city officials descended upon the encampment last Friday.
The team included LAPD cops on horses, bio-hazard guys from the Department of Public Works and representatives from L.A. City Hall -- including Public Works commissioner Andrea Alarcon, royal offspring of City Councilman Richard Alarcon. Also present was the mayor's Westside deputy, Joseph Hari.
And Venice resident Reta Moser has the photos to prove it:
Ryavec of the Stakeholder's Association says the mayor's apparent new interest in clearing Skid Rose may have to do with a little run-in they had recently at a swanky restaurant on Melrose. A few highlights from the ensuing conversation, via Ryavec's blog:
"When I told him that I wanted to talk with him about the problems we are having with transient encampments in Venice, he interrupted me and said the real problem was that the council district 'has no leadership.' Then he made another derogatory remark about Bill Rosendahl."
"Then he said, 'But if you want me involved, I will get involved. You may not like my solution, but you will get a solution. Did you hear me today [referring to his successes with transportation improvements]? I get things done.'"
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"I'll leave you with the Mayor's parting comments at Mozza: 'You know, when I leave office, I'm going to move to either Venice or the Pacific Palisades, so I have a personal interest in helping you with this.'"
Ryavec tells the Weekly that since last Friday, when the encampment at 3rd was scrubbed of its dirt and its drifters, "a few of them have come back." However, he says city officials have promised to "come back this Friday and the week after that, until [homeless people] get the message that this is not a campground."
Rosendahl confirms: "Further clean-ups will happen, and on a regular basis."
Meanwhile, the real Skid Row, where the mayor certainly never intends to live out his golden years, is clogging up with more transients and trash bags than ever before, the LAPD tells Blogdowntown. Looks like one grimy stretch of downtown L.A. might be the official dumping ground for riff-raff scraped off the city's finer sidewalks.