Newly installed easy access to the water from the Venice Boulevard parking lot. Credit: Kris Dahlin

Mike Bonin’s lack of leadership on homelessness
Editor:
The recent increase in homelessness in Venice, specifically the last two years, is due directly to Councilman Michael Bonin’s lack of leadership and planning. I have lived in Venice since 1991 and have never seen the number of homeless in Venice so rampant, and more importantly, see the number of unhoused people be so confrontational. Both issues are being caused by Bonin’s lack of leadership as a city official. He claims to be spearheading solutions, but if one takes an in-depth look, one will see he helped create the current situation happening in Venice.

Unsheltered homelessness in Los Angeles is not a new issue nor is it at its all-time high. Based upon LA County’s own data, 2020 had 48,000 unsheltered homeless people. In 2005, there were 53,000 unsheltered homeless. That means there are 10% fewer unsheltered people now than in 2005. But the state of affairs in Venice is exponentially more problematic than in 2005. The reason for this is the city of LA’s handling of where and how to deal with unsheltered homeless.

There were hundreds of homeless (sheltered and unsheltered) living in a controlled area near the airport, the area between Manchester, La Cienega, Century and Aviation. This area is approximately 100 acres that are owned by the city of LA within Bonin’s district. The city and airport had development plans, and in 2019 they fenced off the area to begin the airport expansion, forcing these hundreds of homeless people out without providing any relocation help. All of these unhoused people needed to go somewhere and have ended up in Venice and the surrounding area.

When Bonin says to the local residents of Venice that he “wishes he could remove the homeless, but his hands are tied due to legal issues”, why did those same issues not exist when the city forcibly removed them from city-owned property? If Bonin was a true leader, his office would have offered a real vision for handling the removal of the homeless from that area and done so with the community’s help, thereby curtailing the situation we are now witnessing.

When Bonin says he is looking at all options to house the homeless and help deal with the Venice homeless situation, his actions do not bear that out. When the MTA lot was converted into homeless housing, Bonin informed the Venice community this facility would not house local homeless, but would instead bring homeless from outside Venice. This same situation is happening again with the use of the Ramada Inn on Washington Boulevard, where again, unhoused people from outlying areas will be given the opportunity for housing while the current Venice encampments continue to grow.

There is a huge amount of vacant land in his district between Vista del Mar and Pershing that used to be homes that the city purchased and demoed so they could expand LAX. This area could be used immediately to temporarily house the majority of unhoused people now camping on the Venice Boardwalk and throughout the city and county. The city doesn’t want to consider this land because it will make the homeless their issue rather than the local community.

The Venice community is open to working with the city of LA to find equitable solutions, but desperately needs help with shifting the paradigm that “the unhoused have a right to choose to stay that way” that Bonin espouses. He uses this paradigm whenever it suits him. If the city needs to build something then it is OK to move the homeless without consideration, but if a resident wants to use the sidewalk, the homeless are not required to move.

District 11, Venice especially, needs a council person that understands its specific needs and is willing to listen and address them, not ignore them. We need a solid plan that incorporates city and county participation, especially with mental health issues to address how to help those people who explicitly say they want to stay unhoused.

This is an untenable option that city residents and businesses shouldn’t have to face alone. District 11 does not need a councilman who has his own agenda that doesn’t sync with any part of the district he represents.
Mark Van Gessel
Venice

June is National Dairy Month
Editor:
June is National Dairy Month. Time to review the financial, ethical and nutritional burden created by the dairy industry.

This week, NPR reported that New York dairy farmers, who are blaming slumping sales on the pandemic, are expecting more subsidies. As a resident of New York, where dairy is the number one agricultural export, I find this particularly distasteful.

Dairy is an outdated industry that relies on a cycle of constant insemination and impregnation of cows to produce milk intended for their offspring. Newborn calves are torn from their mothers so we can steal their milk for human consumption. At a rate of 24 billion gallons a year nationwide.

Dairy products are laden with cholesterol, saturated fats, hormones, pathogens and antibiotics, leading to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Many people lack the enzyme for digesting dairy products.

But help is on the way. Food manufacturers have developed excellent nut and grain-based milks, cheeses, yogurts, and ice cream. U.S. sales alone are expcted to exceed $2 billion this year.

It is time for everyone to explore plant-based dairy products, for the sake of our economy, our personal health, and the health of the animals.

Respectfully,
Eric C Lindstrom
Executive Director
Farm Animal Rights Movement

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