Economics 101 vs. Bonin’s Panic Attack

Re: “Bonin: It’s Time to Take Action on Homelessness,” News, April 7

As a professional, I feel compelled to clarify several of the points raised by your reporter in your recent coverage of Mr. Bonin’s presentation of the homeless situation in Venice.

Councilman Bonin is overwhelmed at the plight of the homeless in Venice; although the communities of Santa Monica and Marina del Rey apparently don’t share his worries.

Why is that? Is there a moral hazard here at play? Not at all!
In fact, there is no fact evidence supporting his sense of emergency.

Recent reportage from the LA Times points the other way. A recent Times analysis found “1,000 rent-controlled apartments were taken off the market last year” to make way for McMansions, condos and new rentals. Evictions from such units have doubled during the same time. In March, the size of the U.S. labor force rose by nearly 400,000, as many working-age people who were previously on the sidelines jumped back into the job hunt.

Nevertheless, Bonin proposes to use Westminster Senior Center for the storage of goods and for services for the homeless, disregarding the fact that there is an elementary school adjacent, day care and nursery schools across the way, a major shopping street (Abbott Kinney Boulevard) a block away, hotels, restaurants, lodging houses and hotels on the other side of Westminster Avenue, and tourist traffic that utilizes the school parking lots on weekends. Dog park users are continually harassed by vagrants who use the park for various activities of their shadow economy, including an active drug culture.

Venice is going through an economic expansion, while marginal residents are having to move on. It is economics 101. Bonin’s plan would kill the booming prosperity of the neighborhood.

Furthermore, Mr. Bonin stated to some applause that Chrysalis has agreed to manage the storage facility, but it neither has experience or management ability to do so.

Mr. Bonin fails to understand that Venice would become a skid row and a dumping ground for the homeless. Rents in Venice are much higher than adjacent areas, and Mr. Bonin’s proposal, if enacted, is certain to discourage investors in the future. Neither is storage at the senior center an approved use under Venice Specific Plan: Section 2083 of the Coastal Act requires the local authorities to “protect special communities and neighborhoods that, because of their characteristics, are popular visitor destination points for recreational uses.” The change in use could require amendments to the Specific Plan, the Coastal Act and approval from the Coastal Commission.

W. Firschein, AIA, Venice