The Venice Skatepark Bowl at Sunset

Photo by Kris Dahlin

Venice on the Brink

Having resided in Venice for nearly 28 years, I am not a “local” per say, but someone who has witnessed much, especially the downfall and exile of the middle class while crime and homelessness surge here in Venice!

It is a peculiar situation when home sales and rental properties vastly increase in value and price, while crime, and violent crime in particular, spike as well.

Traditionally speaking, an increase in the value of residential housing stock generally leads to a reduction in crime, which was the case initially about a decade ago. But because of the failed homelessness initiatives by LA, and in particular Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councilman Mike Bonin, this epidemic now wrapped up in a pandemic has Venetians wondering: Will Venice ever recover?

While COVID-19 is a clear agitator to the current local conditions, the homelessness population has increased to levels so out of control that the Venice boardwalk, which was once the pride of living here in this urban beach enclave, is now ground zero for theft, robbery, rape and murder.

The false proposition that the increase of homelessness and encampments is not at the source of this violence is a narrative of our elected officials, who refuse to acknowledge the failures of bridge housing or the vote of “no confidence,” made by the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) and failure of both Garcetti and Bonin to work with the local Venice community to turn things around.

It really doesn’t matter where you reside in Venice, for the spike in homeless and the inability to control the increase in encampments continues with a blind stamp of approval by both the Mayor and our Council member.

These failed policy initiatives are now coming to fruition as LAPD has been ostracized and polarized by the defunding of their operating budget, further alienating a reliable public safety component residents should expect. Instead, you have a sitting councilman playing politics with public safety as crime spirals out of control at the beach and more closures of businesses that rely on tourism and foot traffic at the beach [struggle to] survive economically!

For now, you have a boardwalk in dire need of cleaning as the encampments mount, the seedy usage of drugs continues and a sense the boardwalk has been co-opted by these transient criminals who refuse to adhere to any CDC guidelines regarding transmission of COVID-19. In fact, both Mayor Garcetti and Councilman Bonin use the pandemic as a reason to promote a false narrative that cleaning the boardwalk and bringing some sense of normalcy back to Venice is the wrong thing to do!…

The rage and anger of Venice residents just doesn’t [seem to] matter, and that voice must be shut down in the eyes of Garcetti and Bonin. For these tactics are usually attributed to Orwellian-style dogma or the current occupant of the White House, not those who calls themselves liberal or progressive!

So one might ask, why are our elected officials acting in such a non-productive fashion unsupportive of the needs of the Venice community?

Why are drug addicts, transients, alcoholics and the mentally unstable who roam the streets of Venice and encamp in filthy conditions now described as “new neighbors?”

While these detached city officials rage on about the President, all politics as they say is local. And all locals want is a return to some semblance of a crime-free Venice in which one can walk a dog or go to a grocery market and not be accosted by the homeless, who see this new normal as, in fact, just fine!

For our Mayor as well as our Councilman are AWOL, nowhere to be found within the confines of Venice, never at the beach or boardwalk monitoring the human catastrophe created on their collective watches and the obvious suppression of opinion that is counter to the fallacies of addressing these issues in a serious or productive manner.

There is a reason that in the last two years Bonin’s office has been a revolving door of bureaucrats who have no answers for Venetians and just serve as a political buffer to relieve him of the obvious issues as hand. It is a dysfunctional and senseless relationship that needs to be mended and repaired, but that takes these elected officials removing the rose-colored glasses and being truthful and honest with their constituents as well as themselves.

Sincerely,

Nick Antonicello

Venice

The writer is a volunteer member of the Outreach, Parking and Oceanfront Committee’s of the Venice Neighborhood Council.

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