Vacant Metro bus lot at Main and Sunset would address ‘Skid Rose’ encampments

L.A. City Councilman Mike Bonin identified the vacant bus yard two years ago as a potential location for affordable housing / Photo by Ted Soqui

Two years ago, L.A. City Councilman Mike Bonin announced that he and county transportation authorities hope to convert the vacant Metro bus lot at Main Street and Sunset Avenue into permanent affordable housing.

Last week, Metro’s governing board identified these three acres of prime Venice property a short walk from the beach as one of five locations citywide under consideration for use as temporary homeless housing.

In response to public outcry about the proliferation of homeless encampments throughout Los Angeles, last month Mayor Eric Garcetti announced his “A Bridge Home Initiative,” which earmarks $20 million to build temporary housing on government-owned land in all 15 council districts.

“The city of Los Angeles, the county of Los Angeles, the federal government and L.A. Metro are all determining which government-owned properties are available for use for ‘bridge’ housing. Nowhere in the 11th District is the demand to reduce encampments louder and stronger than in Venice, and Councilman Bonin is looking at government-owned properties in areas near encampments where neighbors have asked us to focus,” said David Graham-Caso, Bonin’s communications director.

The Metro lot is just two blocks from Venice’s perpetual homeless encampments along Third Avenue between Sunset and Rose avenues, aka the notorious “Skid Rose.” Residents nearby have publicly antagonized Bonin for not doing more to reduce the population of those encampments and to alleviate related concerns about sanitation, safety and quality of life.

Council districts that embrace bridge housing would receive city sanitation funds to clean up encampment areas that would be replaced by nearby bridge housing.

Garcetti’s initiative “will reduce encampments in our neighborhoods by giving people living in them temporary or ‘bridge’ housing nearby, and Councilman Bonin is looking to open at least two bridge housing facilities in different parts of the 11th District,” Graham-Caso said. “Whatever site is selected, there will be opportunities for public engagement and input on design, operations and more.”

A vocal contingent of Venice homeowners and community activists has already vocally opposed using the former Metro bus lot for development of permanent affordable housing, arguing that city officials should sell the land at market rate in order to generate funds that could build a lot more units of affordable housing where real estate isn’t so pricey.

Metro has already begun a process of environmental review and gathering community feedback for Bonin’s 2016 affordable housing proposal, still years away from completion.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, whose district includes Venice, has expressed support for building affordable housing on the Metro lot and has long supported the concept of bridge housing as a more immediate way to address homelessness.

“We are working closely with Councilman Bonin’s office and are supportive of any appropriate site for interim housing on the Westside, since there is a dire shortage of available beds,” Kuehl said.  “However, it’s also important to note that no site has been [definitively] selected.”

A Very Violent Weekend in Venice

Two shootings appear to be gang-related; boardwalk stabbing was an argument

Police believe multiple shootings this weekend in the Oakwood neighborhood of Venice may be gang-related, while suspects remain at large. Meanwhile, the violence shifted to the Venice Boardwalk on Monday night, where a stabbing attack — this one involving a machete — left two men injured.

Brooks and Sixth avenues was the nexus for both weekend shootings.

On Saturday a man was sitting in his car at Brooks and Sixth at around 10:15 p.m. when he was approached  by an unidentified assailant and was shot multiple times — including a wound to the head — but was able to drive himself to a gas station near Lincoln and Venice boulevards, several blocks away. Police and paramedics responded to the gas station and transported the victim to a local hospital.

Early Sunday morning, about five minutes after midnight, police responded to a radio call in the 600 block of Brooks Avenue, where they found another man with a gunshot wound and transported him to the hospital, said LAPD Officer Lizeth Lomeli.

“There are no suspect descriptions, and both shootings are believed to be gang-related,” Lomeli said.

Neither of the victims are cooperating with the investigations, police say.

Almost two years ago there was another murder a block away, near Brooks and Seventh avenues that police have not ruled out as a gang killing. Gregory Wherry, who prosecutors say is a member of the Venice Shoreline Crips, allegedly shot and killed construction worker Marvin Ponce on Aug. 9, 2016.

Monday night’s dual stabbing appears to have stemmed from an argument. Pacific Division officers were called to Ocean Front Walk and Ozone Avenue at 11:30 p.m., where they found two victims suffering from stab wounds, Lomeli said. According to witnesses, two men were arguing when one suddenly attacked the other.

“In self-defense, the victim stabbed the suspect with a sharp object. The suspect was later detained and arrested,” Lomeli said.

LAPD Pacific Division Capt. James Setzer confirmed a machete was involved.