Watch Out: Cameras Are Recording You; Bollards Won’t Save You

October 1, 2014

By Greta Cobar

A lifeguard driving an L.A. County truck accidentally ran over a sunbather on September 15 at 4:25 pm near the intersection of Ocean Front Walk and Venice Blvd. Twenty-five year old Loraine Bermudez of Whittier suffered fractures and internal injuries, and was immediately transported to a hospital. Her injuries are not life-threatening.
The lifeguard stopped immediately after the accident, rendered help to Bermudez, and called for help. He had responded to a call about swimmers getting too close to the rocks just North of the Venice pier. Mass media initially reported that the accident happened while the lifeguard was driving towards the rocks, with his lights and sirens on. However, he struck her while he was driving away from the rocks, without lights or sirens.
The accident happened while Bermudez’s husband was in the ocean.
Just this past May a 49 year old woman was run over by a sanitation truck while sunbathing on the beach here in Venice.
The September 2013 Beachhead article titled “Increase Safety by Banning Police Cars on OFW” addressed the issue of danger from being run over by police and lifeguard vehicles (http://bit.ly/1rGP8EN). Both the recent and the May accidents are truly unfortunate. The fact is that there are way too many vehicles going way too fast on the sand and on OFW at almost all times. They all need to slow way down and reduce over-all traffic in general.
Is Mike Bonin, our City Councilperson, now planning on installing bollards all over the sand?
Following the August 3, 2013 death of Alice Gruppioni, who was run over by a mad man driving down OFW, Bonin ordered plastic bollards that fold to the ground when any car touches them to be installed all over OFW. In no time they became an eye-sore and a big tripping hazard. Bonin replaced them in April (http://bit.ly/1prLwmT) and they again became nothing but an eyesore and we ended up with even more tripping hazards. At Rose and OFW they were just replaced once again in September. How much did all of this cost?
At the October 29, 2013 Town Hall meeting the Venice community vehemently and overwhelmingly spoke against bollards and cameras on OFW (http://bit.ly/1vz5Kkp). Bonin requested the meeting and attended the first three quarters of it, but not with the goal of catering to the wishes of the community, like he’s supposed to. His motion before City Council to install cameras on OFW was introduced in August 2013, three months prior to the Town Hall (http://bit.ly/1rGP8EN).
Twenty new LAPD surveillance cameras are about to be installed on OFW and be monitored by officers at the Pacific Division’s Venice Beach Substation. Our City Councilperson is filling the post of our usual politician: using fear and safety pretenses to invade our privacy. Through increased government control Bonin is pretending to care about our safety while catering to Big Brother.
Public safety from government vehicles is not being addressed in spite of two women being run over in the past five months. But because a mad man drove on the sidewalk off Dudley St. in order to get around the permanent metal bollards that have been on Dudley and OFW for many years, we are going to be subjected to constant police surveillance in what truly has become a police state. Never mind that the cameras would not have prevented the mad man from doing what he did.
On August 1, during the First Friday madness on Abbot Kinney Blvd., a deep-fat fryer caught fire inside the Miami Nights food truck and ripped through the roof, rising four feet above the vehicle. The food truck was located at Abbot Kinney and Andalusia. Luck had it that it was only 7:12 pm, and the crowds had not arrived yet. Fire-fighting vehicles were able to reach the food truck and extinguish the flames before the propane tanks inside caught on fire. Had it been between 8 and 9 pm, the streets would have been grid-locked with vehicles, sidewalks would have been over-spilling with pedestrians, and food trucks would have been parked back-to-back up and down the street. Imagine the danger of that situation.
Bonin did not care to address that situation at all. However, fast forward four hours later, to 11 pm on August 1, and you could have found Bonin and his new husband on OFW because they got word of a mattress on fire. So Bonin proceeded to help actually lift the mattress off the ground and put it in a hauling truck while at the same time calling the situation on OFW “apocalyptical”.
Never mind that the fire rose only five inches above the mattress, created damage less than a foot in diameter, and was extinguished in a matter of a few short minutes. And never mind that only a homeless hater would set a mattress on fire – let’s blame the homeless! And let’s cater to the yuppies on Abbot Kinney and pretend that they didn’t almost set the city of Venice on fire.
During the January Venice Neighborhood Council meeting Bonin told the audience of his intent to remove personal belongings off OFW and enumerated his obstacles, such as legislature stating that the city can remove “abandoned materials”, but not “unattended materials”; that things have to be tagged before being removed; and that everything removed has to be stored by the city for 90 days before being discarded.
Fast forward to September 12, 2 am to 4 am on OFW, when an un-announced sweep took place that removed things without tagging anything. People sleeping on the side-streets off OFW wanted to go and grab their belongings before the things were taken away, but LAPD threatened them with arrest for violating the illegal curfew selectively enforced on OFW between midnight and 5 am.
A note was left stating that all items picked up were taken to the Temple St. warehouse.
Rachel Gomez, Ibrahim Butler’s partner, called the Temple St. warehouse to inquire about Ibrahim’s “Welcome to Venice” sign, one of the items confiscated September 12. The sign had been a fixture on OFW for two years, greeting visitors and providing photo-ops. It was recently featured in two movies, Ride and Undateable John.
“When I called the Temple St. warehouse, I was told that the item wasn’t there,” Gomez told the Beachhead.
It is our fault for allowing our elected officials to put us under surveillance 24 hours a day behind fabricated fear factors while the real dangers that our own government poses to us are shoved under some homeless person’s mattress.
I’m not even gonna go into advising you to contact Bonin or to elect somebody else. The fact is that the more disappointed we are with our elected officials and our government as a whole, the closer we are to a true People’s Revolution. So the less they appease us, the less time we’re gonna allow them to rule over us and destroy all of us in the process. Viva la Revolucion!
—————————–
Who Pays for the Pigs?
YOU DO!!!

Big Brother is here!
Cameras everywhere
Cops see your underwear!
Pigs have eyes on the Ocean Front Walk
The ones of the Parks & Rec. even talk!
Cops have 20 new cameras to see your zits
Your gal doing the splits
And your wife’s tits!
Monitoring in real time
Looking for bikinis, butts and crime.
We’re all taped for them to see
If you fart, belch or pee!
Pick your nose and scratch your ass
Pull up your pants or fondle your lass.
They’ll see you talk to Joe Smoe or Bob the Bum
A movie star or some gutter scum.
Everywhere you go
They will know
If you smoke, do coke
Or take a pill for some ill.
Killers, thieves, rapists they’ll lock up in jail
Also homeless, nuts and hippies without fail –
And just try and get bail!
They’ll record vendors, tourists and stores
Musicians, artists, poets and whores.
They’ll see what you eat
Who you greet
Who has big feet
And dogs in heat!
Police watch all day
The poor and minorities will pay.
Peek a boo
I see you!
It’s true, pigs ain’t got a clue
What you do
But they’ll beat you black & blue!
Helicopters and drones fly by
Pigs spy, so say hi
Before you die! My, oh my!
Now nothing will escape Big Brother’s eye
So we can say to freedom and privacy – Bye, Bye!!!

– Moishe Pupik

Bollards2

 Above: new, useless bollards just installed at Rose and OFW

Bollards

Above: Bollards and broken bollards that are nothing but an eye-sore and tripping hazard

FOOD+TRUCK+FIRE+VENICE+9

Above: Food truck on fire, Friday, August 1, Abbot Kinney Blvd.

Welcome to VeniceAbove: Ibrahim’s artwork, confiscated and discarded by the LAPD September 12


We Could Have Danced All Night

October 1, 2014

By Marty Liboff

After Abbot Kinney opened his amazing Venice of America in 1905 with beautiful Italian Renaissance style buildings and miles of canals, he dreamed of bringing fine culture to L.A. He built an auditorium on his new pier at Windward Ave. and planned fine arts with opera, classical music and Shakespeare. He managed to get the lady once called the greatest actress of all time, Sarah Bernhardt, to come in 1906 to play Tosca and parts from other plays. She parked her private rail car on the pier and every night had dinner with Abbot. It was rumored that the sometimes cross dressing Sarah had an affair with the married Abbot Kinney!
Although her engagement was a success, it soon became quite apparent that the idea of fine culture for most people in L.A. was bars, gambling, amusement park rides, bathing beauties, and dance halls. Kinney then built a giant dance hall near the auditorium. In the next few years, several dance halls were built in Venice and Ocean Park. Venice had the Venice Ballroom and the Sunset Ballroom. On the Ocean Park pier, that started in Venice at Navy street, there came to be several dance halls or ballrooms. On the Santa Monica pier the great La Monica Ballroom was later built.
It is hard to imagine today, but before TV, computers and iphones, many people would go ballroom dancing for entertainment. Visitors would come down here to the beach to gamble, swim, dance and go to several huge bath houses. Across from the Ocean Park pier was the grand Palace Dance Hall. On the Ocean Park pier was the Casino Gardens Ballroom where the jazz great Tommy Dorsey played. There was also the amazing Egyptian Ballroom with ancient Egyptian statues and paintings. On the south side of the pier at Navy street in Venice was the Bon Ton Ballroom. This ballroom had several names during its day, and was the last of the great old ballrooms on our Ocean Front to close. The Bon Ton, or Aragon Ballroom, is the one I remember.
The Bon Ton Ballroom was opened in 1922 on the south side of the Ocean Park pier in Venice. The south side of the pier in Venice was sometimes called the Lick Pier. In 1924, a massive fire consumed the entire pier. The pier was quickly rebuilt with a new Bon Ton Ballroom. In 1942 it was renamed the Aragon Ballroom after a famous club back east. Many great old jazz bands played at the Aragon Ballroom on the pier in Venice. In the 1940s, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey with Frank Sinatra, and Harry James and his band played at the Aragon. During World War Two, the ballrooms were filled all the time by workers from Douglas Aircraft and locals who needed a break from the war. The Douglas Aircraft Company was next to the Santa Monica Airport on Ocean Park Blvd. In 1950, Kirk Douglas shot part of his movie”Young Man With A Horn” in the Aragon Ballroom.
After the war, business was down on the piers. In 1946 the city of L.A. decided they didn’t want the Venice pier anymore and they ended the lease. Sadly, in 1947 the wonderful Venice pier was demolished with its dance halls, auditorium, rides and the Venice movie theater. The Ocean Park pier didn’t have the competition anymore and did better.
In the mid 1940s, the self named King of Country Swing Music, Spade Cooley played at the Venice Ballroom, and for a time at the Aragon. In the late 1940s he moved to the large La Monica Ballroom on the Santa Monica pier. He became a giant sensation when he went on TV. When I was a child we’d always tune in on TV and watch Spade play his country fiddle, or “fidoodlin”. He was a big star until, while drunk, he horribly beat and killed his wife Ella Mae. He called her “the purtiest little filly in California!”. He wrote a love song to her called,”Spadella”. In one of his drunken rages, he imagined she was having an affair with the famous movie star, the King of the Cowboys, Roy Rogers! Spade was convicted in a sensational trial. It was as big news at the time as the O.J. Simpson trial was! One of Spade’s big hit songs was, “Shame On You!”.
In 1951, Lawrence Welk and his “Champagne Music Orchestra” took over at the Aragon Ballroom. He also went on TV and became a great success. Ballroom dancers packed the dance floor as Lawrence played polka and pop hits on his accordion and led his big band with a, “anda one, anda two…”. He had a bubble machine blowing bubbles like champagne. Many musicians and singers became famous on his show. When I was a kid, I was in love with the lovely young Lennon Sisters who sang on the show. They became huge stars. Welk’s son discovered them while attending Venice High School with the older sisters. A couple of the Lennon brothers also played music later in the local rock band called ‘Venice’.
Occasionally the Aragon Ballroom had special events. In the early 1960s with the anti-communist madness going on in America, there were anti-commie rallies held there.
In 1958 the Ocean Park Pier was transformed into a fantastic ocean themed amusement pier called Pacific Ocean Park (P.O.P.). Lawrence Welk continued with his orchestra on TV in the Aragon Ballroom at P.O.P. until he moved to Hollywood in 1961. For a short time the big band leader Freddy Martin took over at the Aragon. However, the days of the old big bands was coming to a close. Pacific Ocean Park already had success with that crazy new music called rock & roll. The Aragon Ballroom would soon rise again, reincarnated into one of the greatest rock and roll clubs of all time… I’ll tell you about it next month…
(For more history read: Venice California: ‘Coney Island of the Pacific’ by Jeffrey Stanton and Pacific Ocean Park by Christopher Merritt and Domenic Priore).

Marty Liboff3Marty Liboff7Marty Liboff4Marty LiboffMarty Liboff2


All Aboard the Tram

August 1, 2014

By Marty Liboff

When Abbot Kinney opened his Venice of America in 1905, he had a small steam train running around the canals. On the Venice Ocean Front there were wicker basket trams that were pushed from behind by people power. (A good idea for today?).

By 1920 the trams were electric battery powered. They ran from Windward Ave. and the Venice Pier, to the Ocean Park Pier, and then to the Santa Monica Pier, and back. Believe it or not, when I was a kid, the Ocean Front Walk continued straight to the Santa Monica Pier with shops, homes and hotels just like in Venice.

In 1923, the Venice Tram Company was formed. By the 1930s, the trams had 4 cylinder, Ford model A engines and canopy tops. There were also similar 4 cylinder, Chevy engines.The seats faced toward the ocean or shops plus a back seat.

In 1958, the Ocean Park Pier was transformed into Pacific Ocean Park, or P.O.P. It  was an amazing ocean-themed Disneyland. (This is another great story.) The old trams were spruced up and painted blue, and cute seahorses were attached to the fronts. On the back was an ad for P.O.P. During the early days of P.O.P., the 18 tram fleet carried 20,000 people a day!

The old engines kept rolling for over 40 years. They never went very fast, especially in later years. Sometimes they would even stop if there were too many people on board. It was a nickel early on, then a dime. My pal Hank reminded me that for a while you had to pay an extra dime to go all the way to the Santa Monica Pier.

When I was little, my mom would take me on the tram to Windward ave. There were all kinds of shops there: grocery store, drugstore, clothing shops, notions and a bar. She would do some shopping and then we would ride the tram back home to Ocean Park. The conductor would stop for us by our house. I loved riding the tram, watching the walk go by with people and sites and with the ocean breeze blowing through my hair. It was wonderful sunny days…

Most of us poor kids in Ocean Park and Venice would wait until the tram slowed or stopped and then we’d hop on the back and sneak on. Back in the 1950s, a dime could buy us kids a comic book, a Coke in a bottle, or even two Hershey chocolate almond bars. We wouldn’t want to spend our precious dime on the tram if we could sneak on for free. A couple times we got caught and the conductor stopped and kicked us off. I remember him yelling at us! Sometimes the conductor saw us but let us poor kids ride anyway. Some of the early skateboarders in the neighborhood would grab the back and be towed along the beachfront. Real cool! Sometimes the conductor would yell at them! It was great fun…

As I remember, they had a big garage on Brooks and the Speedway, behind where the Cafe Venicia is today. They were kept there and tinkered on. There were 18 trams, and 16 before they stopped running. They were always tuning up those antique engines. It was an amazing shop with strange tools and lifts and things going on.

After P.O.P. opened, Santa Monica began its Ocean Park Redevelopment Project and tore down most of Ocean Park. A couple years later, L.A. began condemning the old Abbot Kinney buildings around Windward and other old buildings around the beach. The beach became blighted. Then P.O.P. closed in Oct.1967. P.O.P. soon became a crazy, scary ghost town. There was no reason to take the tram and no place to go. The few buildings left on Windward just had a couple seedy bars. Ocean Park was gutted. The heart of old Ocean Park was Pier Ave., with shops of all kinds, and it was torn down. Many of us locals had been kicked out and our homes demolished. We were some of the trams ridership. I remember watching the old torn up trams sadly chugging along the boardwalk with rarely any riders.

In September 1970, after one of many fires on the closed P.O.P. pier, the trams stopped running without any fanfare. The manager, Robert Bestor, a relative of the original owner, said that “Revenue was way down since P.O.P. closed. Our revenue doesn’t even cover the cost of our insurance. The beach is in a state of decay. Vandals have cut up the seats and canvas tops. Some neighborhood kids jump on to ride for free. Some kids even throw rocks at us and dent the trams!” He also blamed TV: “TV hurt business also. People don’t go to piers and ballrooms anymore. They stay home and watch TV.”

In the next few months, there was some discussion by the L.A.City Council whether to save the trams in the hope that the beachfront would improve. Some councilmen wanted the Parks and Recreation, or Transportation departments, to take over the trams, but in the end they decided to end the franchise.

After nearly 48 years and over 10 million riders, the Venice Tram Company disappeared. There had been trams on the Ocean Front since the beginning of Abbot Kinney’s amazing Venice of America, over 65 years before the last run. Now, only a handful of us old timers even remember the tram.

(For more history read ‘Venice California: Coney Island of the Pacific’ by Jeffrey Stanton)
—————————————

Damn Where’s that Venice Tram!

Hot damn Madame
Let’s ride the Venice Tram.
For only a Dime
We’ll have a great Time.
From Windward to the Santa Monica Pier
I’m gonna kiss my Dear.
We can eat green eggs and Ham
On the Venice Tram.
Its fun at the pier in Venice
Eatin pizza & Coke with Ice.
We’ll ride the roller coaster at P.O.P.
Then swim in the Sea.
Off to Santa Monica Pier we Zoom
To dance at the La Monica Ballroom.
Then back again to Windward
Where the conductor yells,”All Aboard!”
Hot damn Madame
Lets ride the Venice Tram!

– Marty Liboff

Tram2 copy

Tram1 copy

Tram6 copy

Tram4 copy

Above: The Venice Tram through the years: Top postcard: Man-powered push roller chairs, 1905 to 1910; Second and third postcards: Electric trams, 1910 to early 1930s; Bottom postcard: The tram from the 1930s to when it stopped in 1970.


LAPD Steps Up Harassment of Boardwalk Patrons

July 1, 2014

By Clay Claiborne

Sunday, June 29th, the LAPD introduced a new tactic designed to clear what they consider “undesirable” people from the Venice Boardwalk,

As has become almost a Sunday summer tradition, the Doors tribute band “Peace Frog” was playing at the Venice Bistro. The club has an open front and many find the music sounds best outside the club, so as has also become a tradition, several dozen people who either couldn’t afford the cover charge, didn’t want to drink, or simply wished to remain outside, had gathered in front of the Bistro to listen and dance.

I was also there as usual when four LAPD cars entered the boardwalk from Rose Ave about 8:30pm and did something I have never seen them do in many years living in Venice and listening to bands at the Bistro. They drove two abreast very slowly down the boardwalk all lit up like Christmas trees. Their lights were flashing like they were rushing to an emergency but it was clear they were going nowhere slow. They were clearly intend on forcing people to move from in front of the Bistro so I approached one of the lead cars to ask what the ruckus was about. I spoke briefly to the lead officer, Sgt. Y. Moreau [badge #26116] who told me that they had just broken up the drum circle [down by Brooks Ave] and some of the people had come down here so they were clearing them out of here as well.

From their lights down on the beach, I had seen them break up the drum circle but I saw no influx of people from that joining us in front of the Bistro. In any case, in the hour before the arrival of this police task force, I had observed no drinking outside, no fights, no disruptive behavior at all, certainly nothing requiring police intervention; and neither did they, because they never got out of their cars. In spite of Sqt. Y. Moreau’s attempts to connect this action to shutting down the drum circle, it was clear that it was directed at everyone in front of the Bistro and while the business owners might like to see the LAPD stop people from enjoying a free concert, there were no public safety issues that warranted this sweep. Harassing people into either paying the Bistro or going home is not a proper use of police powers or resources.

Venice Bistro


Free Venice

June 1, 2014

By Marty Liboff

Bike your walk. No smoking. No littering. No loitering. No sleeping in cars. No overt begging. No vending after sundown. No feeding birds. No people after midnight. No vending anything useful. No bottles on beach. No dogs off leash. No selling anything wearable. No beer on boardwalk. No barbeques. No dogs on beach. (Are elephants O.K.?) No selling fruit. No public drunks. No loud music. No amplified music. No vending outside spaces. No hair wraps. No hair cutting. No dumpster diving for food. No nudity. No nude sunbathing. No living in vans. No vending without resale number. No skateboards on walkway. No massages. No smoking pot. No pot shops near beach. No dogs without poop bag. No weekend dogs Memorial Day till Halloween. No sleeping on beach. No camping on beach. No sleeping in parks. No selling water. No public urinating even if toilets are closed. No sleeping on bench. No loud drums. No noise after sundown. No drum circle after dark. No skinny dipping. No selling books. No enclosed tents. No selling jewelry. No breast feeding. No washing in bathrooms. No bathing in bathrooms. No leaving belongings unattended. No cooking on beach. No posting flyers. No being without I.D. No loud yelling. No playing music outside spaces. No talking back to cops. No having too much fun. No being different. No smelly farts. No breathing. No life. No, no, nein, no, no, no … Enjoy Your Beaches. “One thing I can tell you is you got to be free.” – The Beatles


What’s Up With the Beach Curfew?

May 1, 2014

By Peggy Lee Kennedy

On March 13 a coalition consisting of the Los Angeles Community Action Network (LACAN), Occupy Venice and the Venice Justice Committee appeared before the California Coastal Commission meeting in Long Beach regarding the City of Los Angeles’ illegal curfew law enforced on Venice Beach and the Boardwalk (Ocean Front Walk). Why is it an illegal curfew law? Because, according to the California Constitution and the California Coastal Act, no beach can be closed without first obtaining a Coastal Development Permit (CDP) from the Coastal Commission. This is State law, which a City has to comply with. And L.A. has not.

Opposing this L.A. City beach curfew law is not a new effort. The first complaint was filed in November 2007, when the Venice Justice Committee discovered that the City had closed the beach without a CDP. They are State law breakers. Even more egregious to denying us all our right to access of the beach, the City was arresting people with this illegal law. That is why the effort to oppose this law became part of a local Homeless Bill of Rights campaign.

Further to this, a comment was published regarding the illegal beach closed matter in a Coastal Commission staff report June 2013 (on a somewhat separate matter) that created more urgency with the issue. The terms of amending this law, without any recognition that the law itself is a violation, were being negotiated between Coastal Commission staff and the City

The coalition of Occupy Venice, the Venice Justice Committee, and LACAN collected almost 1,000 recent signatures by hand on a petition to open the beach. Copies of the petitions were taped together into a scroll that doubled across the room and up the stairs behind the three speakers’ presentation given in the March 13 Coastal Commission meeting during general public comment. It was so compelling, the Commission instructed staff to act on this enforcement issue and to report back at the April 2014 Commission meeting. See http://youtu.be/wIP4vTAn_aM for the excerpt of the meeting.

Unfortunately, Coastal Commissioners instructing its staff to act on the matter also is not new. Since the original November 2007 complain was submitted, multiple other complaints or mentions of this violation have been submitted to the California Coastal Commission. The past Commission Chair, Sara Wan, instructed staff to act on the matter in 2009. Lawyers defending criminalized homeless people in 2010 urged for Coastal Commission enforcement to act. Multiple letters from the Coastal Commission staff enforcement person were sent to the L.A. City Attorney in 2010. The prior and now deceased Executive Director of the Coastal Commission, Peter Douglas, then wrote a serious four page letter dated August 2010 stating that further action was at hand, which would be a cease and desist order.

That is what we asked the Coastal Commission for on March 13 – a Cease and Desist Order. What happened was a weak conciliatory letter sent in April to the L.A. Department of Recreation and Parks. Why was it weak and conciliatory? The law is illegal and prior letters were submitted to the City Attorney demanding action. These prior letters were not lost. In fact, we just gave copies to staff and the Commissioners. The April letter offered mitigation solutions to an unproven reason for closing the beach. No beach can be closed, with or without mitigations and with or without proof of a public safety reason, prior to first obtaining a CDP (Period). The law is a violation of the California Constitution and the California Coastal Act.

So here we are. I suppose one important part of the story I haven’t mentioned so far is how the City decided the beach curfew should also pertain to the Venice Boardwalk (Ocean Front Walk) in March 2012. These are two different lands: Venice Beach and Ocean Front Walk. Ocean Front Walk was deeded as a forever sidewalk by Abbot Kinney. It is also a walk street and a Boardwalk. Venice Beach, not to be confused with using the term to describe the whole of Venice, is the area west of Ocean Front Walk.

This leads to the other important and final part of this story: this is about criminalizing homeless people. The City of L.A. wanted to squirm out of following the Jones Settlement in Venice, which allows homeless people to sleep on sidewalks between 9pm and 6am. They were already unjustly arresting and criminalizing people for being on the beach after midnight, so they just arbitrarily moved the illegal beach curfew law to include Ocean Front Walk. That’s our city. So much law enforcement, so few solutions. When will this change?

Our not-so-progressive City Councilman for Venice (Council District 11 – Mike Bonin) apparently wants the Beach and Ocean Front Walk to stay closed. He is also in favor of thinly veiled homeless sweeps called “clean ups” that cost untold tax dollars to spray bleach, confiscate belongings and harass homeless people. If someone reading this doesn’t care about human rights, look at the fact that actual solutions cost far less than using law enforcement to criminalize or harass homeless people. The latest fake beach “clean up” had thirteen vehicles along with city staff from the LAPD, Department of Sanitation, Hazardous Waste, and others. Yet there are no emergency shelter beds in Venice, extremely limited sanitary facilities (none at night and nothing near what’s required for the amount of tourist activity in Venice), and the voluntary storage for homeless belongings is over capacity.

Los Angeles, still the shameless Homeless Capital of the United States, really needs to find a more humanitarian approach. A genuinely compassionate outreach to help poor and unhoused people would ease this tension created by the City of Los Angeles.

Beach Curfew

 


Venice Activists mediate in Beach Cleanup

May 1, 2014

By Eric Ahlberg

I had the good fortune of being asked to join a 6:15 am crew of fellow Venetians out on Ocean Front Walk, to monitor and document the roughly bi-weekly cleanup performed by Parks and Recreation, and the Police, along Ocean Front Walk. This kind of cooperative, on the street involvement  by concerned and humane citizens of Venice is a great example of the meaning of Occupy, to manifest your love in the now.

These cleanups have been notorious in our community for their destruction or confiscation of any personal property that may be in the way of the cleanup, and for the harassment by the Police. The victims of the policy are more than the homeless. Artists, vendors and musicians may also find that their property has been thrown away or confiscated. Even locked bikes have been previously removed. Our role as interested community members is to warn everyone on Ocean Front Walk that they are coming, so that they can move their stuff to the beach or to the side streets. We also keep an eye on the police and crews in case there are problems.

The Parks and Recreation crew sprays down the western side of Ocean Front Walk with a dilute solution of bleach. The cleanup caravan is composed of a Parks and Recreation Van, a Police SUV, two Parks and Recreation Pickups, a Parks and Recreation Stake Truck, a Watershed Protection SUV,  a pickup pulling a trailer with a pressure washer, and a Hazardous Materials Truck. They are accompanied by community service trash picker-uppers, and about a dozen cleaner-uppers-workers in white Tyvek overalls, hats, gloves, and dust masks.  We received several reports of headaches and respiratory irritation from people on OFW, including businesspeople.

It is unclear what the liquid that they are spraying is supposed to eliminate, its efficiency is very questionable, and the amount of money spent on these cleanups must be exorbitant and could be better spent to actually help people as opposed to temporarily moving them and their belongings from one place to another. And if the liquid being sprayed is safe for humans, birds, dogs and plants – as it should be – why are the workers wearing the hazmat outfits?

OFW cleanup

Above: Ocean Front Walk “cleanup”.  Photo: Eric Ahlberg


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