Venice Forward Moves in the Right Direction

Posted April 6, 2016 by The Argonaut in Columns

Those who praised Rosendahl’s compassion for the homeless should support his successor’s comprehensive approach

Last week our community said a heartfelt goodbye to former L.A. City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, widely remembered for having genuine compassion for the less fortunate — particularly the homeless, some of whom he sheltered in his own home over the years.

We did not say goodbye to Rosendahl’s legacy on the issue, however.

The night before Rosendahl died, his successor on the council gathered hundreds of Venice residents at Westminster Avenue Elementary School to present the most comprehensive package of localized solutions to homelessness offered by any Westside elected official to date. (See our story on page 8.)

Councilman Mike Bonin’s Venice Forward initiative does just that — it moves forward. And it does so in many pragmatic ways that address the complex web of social and economic challenges causing homelessness in the first place: housing scarcity, mental health issues, unemployment, barriers to social services entry and the theft of basic human dignity.

Though it may seem trivial next to costly affordable housing construction and mass deployment of outreach workers, Bonin’s willingness to provide surplus buses or trailers for mobile shower and lavatory stations is an incredibly significant step in support of human dignity.

If you can’t start your workday without a cup of coffee, imagine clocking in (or showing up for a job interview) after sleeping outside without access to a toilet or morning shower.

Bonin’s most controversial proposal is to allow homeless people to store their belongings at the long-defunct Westminster Senior Center, an idea that is problematic because of the building’s proximity to residential housing.

Expanding access to secure storage is important because shelter programs won’t let homeless people bring many of their possessions with them, forcing the homeless to choose between protecting their personal property and a place to sleep.

We’re not 100% sold on the senior center plan — if a better location arises or shelters can relax property restrictions, so be it — but short of a reasonable alternative we’re inclined to keep an open mind until the scope of activity becomes clear.

That Chrysalis, a local nonprofit homeless resources agency, will be tasked with managing the facility is a good start toward ensuring that neighborhood quality of life is protected while storage bins become a means to a more important end: getting homeless people into programs that will get them off the street.

Venice Forward isn’t the last word on the issue. Two affordable housing developments, a phalanx of outreach workers and even $1.1 million for emergency housing isn’t going to solve homelessness in Venice. But it’s progress.

If you’re not moving forward, you’re standing still. Or worse yet as L.A.’s homeless population continues to rise, moving backward.

And if we’re going to celebrate Rosendahl for striving to move forward, we’d be hypocrites to not do the same.

A public memorial for Bill Rosendahl is set for 2 p.m. Saturday, April 16, at Mar Vista Park, 11430 Woodbine St. Visit for more information.

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    Richard Woolworth

    Contrary to the nonsense his fans are pushing fact is Bill Rosendahl was no friend to the homeless. I was at his town hall meeting 4 years ago regarding the RVs. It was a well orchestrated hate fest against the homeless where nothing that Rosendahl promised ever happened except for the long arm of the law sending in a task force of LAPD thugs to seize homeless people’s vehicles and make their lives even worse than they were before. And that of course resulted in the City of Los Angeles being on the losing side of a lawsuit that cost the taxpayers thousands and thousands of dollars and ended L.A.M.C. 85.02 which was found to be too constitutionally vague to be enforceable.

    Linda Lucks

    Moving forward is the right direction and it must be done NOW. The city alone owns over 400 properties in CD11, 2 of which Mike Bonin has announced will be leased to create much needed Low income housing.

    It is a good start, but many more appropriately located and sized properties must be leased around the City on transportation corridors to create much more housing To make a real dent in the escalating and shameful housingcrisis.

    Vacant and empty government land in Los Angeles needs to be looked and when appropriate, put up for public bid. That and stopping demos, enforcing the laws against short term rentals and stopping the Planning Department from abusing its power by makin g decisions without public input most stop to reverse the hemoraghing of rent stabilized units from being removed from the rental market. Demi’s most be stopped!

    We need more projecs t like the two offered – and soon! It’s a good start and a drop in the huge bucket.

    Angela McGregor

    The storage facility at Westminster Senior Center isn’t primarily controversial because of its proximity to residential housing. What makes it controversial is that it’s very close to the elementary school. Over 350 Venice residents signed a petition to make Mr. Bonin aware of their objections:
    The storage facility on Ocean Front Walk has only exacerbated the problem with encampments there.
    If storage isn’t needed, couldn’t the city contract with Extra Space Storage for less than the nearly $900K a year that Venice Community Housing was asking for in order to convert the senior center?

    Terence Ross

    I beg your pardon. Proximity to the residential neighborhood is equally important to the location of the school. Children live on these residential streets as well. Their sleep as well as that of the parents is disrupted nightly by the homeless. They have no respect while walking down the walk streets making noise at will. I pay over $30,000.00 per year in property taxes and I expect our government to protect my right to a peaceful environment!

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