Opinion: No Free Rides to a Better Tomorrow

Posted August 3, 2016 by The Argonaut in Columns

The loudest complainer about the homeless in Venice opposes a city plan to finally  ‘do something’ about it? Give me a break!

By Linda Lucks

The author, a former president of the Venice Neighborhood Council, is writing in response to “Say No to the Homeless Tax,” published July 21.

Mark Ryavec’s latest column inadvertently makes an argument for why the hallowed Proposition 13 is in need of reform even at the residential level (many already agree it needs tweaking relative to commercial property).

As one who bought his Venice property 20-plus years ago when it was relatively cheap, Ryavec benefits from Prop 13 inequities compared to the newcomers whose interests he has so fiercely been representing the last few years. So it’s relatively easy to understand why he acknowledged but didn’t purposefully focus on that issue.

More to the point, however, here’s the guy who’s practically made a career of vilifying the homeless and those who advocate for them as well as criticizing the city for not “doing something” about homelessness now objecting strenuously when the city proposes to “do something” — namely moving homeless people into housing instead of jail.

And he does so because the proposed city bond for homeless housing might cost him a few bucks, as if providing room and board in prison doesn’t cost anybody anything.

Many of us have come to suspect that Ryavec will continue agitating to get homeless people off the streets of Venice by any means necessary. But, sadly, it appears he’d prefer to continue trying to push them into other communities — with no actual solutions in sight — as long as he doesn’t have to foot any more of the bill for it.

How convenient — and deliberately short-sighted — for him not to mention that property owners will probably enjoy a nice bump in their property values as homelessness is abated.

Regarding the roles of the county and the city in the homeless crisis, Ryavec is a longtime lobbyist and once many years ago a city policy analyst and does, or at least should, know better than to oversimplify the situation.

Does Ryavec really think that the people paying taxes to the city aren’t also paying taxes to the county and state? I guess it’s easy to argue that the county and state should pay the freight if you mislead people into thinking that their doing so won’t result in tax increases or lost services as existing funding or future revenues are shifted to deal with homelessness.

The fact that all levels of government are trying to address the issue without cutting back on other services is what has created this particular issue for him to whine about.

The county and city formed a joint powers authority, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, more than two decades ago to collaborate on homelessness. Shared responsibility — at least within L.A. city limits, where some 60% of the county’s homeless live — is a fact of life. LAHSA was the city’s way of getting more help from the county, and it’s disingenuous to pretend otherwise.

The current reality is that budgets are stretched pretty much to the limit at every level of California government, and local jurisdictions are scrambling to find ways to address homelessness.

The city is proposing the bond measure to pay for housing, and the county is considering a proposal to tax marijuana sales (a smaller revenue stream by comparison) to pay for services for the homeless, although that proposal is in question and other ways are under consideration. They’re doing this to avoid further cuts to services to the general public, which no one wants.

We need every penny we can find to invest in this issue. I, for one, will be supporting both proposals because I want to see us working to solve homelessness — not, as Ryavec apparently prefers, continuing to push homeless people from neighborhood to neighborhood  until they end up someplace where the residents are too poor and powerless to follow his bad example.


    Kevin Keresey

    An excellent response from a very thoughtful community leader. Thank you Linda Lucks.

    Thomas Pleasure

    Every town has it’s blow-hard real estate Donald Trump type bozo; in Venice it’s Mark Ryavec, schnor supreme.

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