BY CBSLA STAFF
The tents have returned to Venice Beach, almost exactly a year after the world-famous boardwalk was cleared.
Dozens of tents are back up, after nearly 200 people were matched with housing when the encampment was cleared last summer.
This summer, Venice locals say they’ve counted about 120 people living on the beach again.
“It’s illegal to be out there but we can see right now there’s something like 22 tents out there right now,” Venice resident Mark Ryavec said.
Just a few weeks ago, an encampment near the Venice library was cleared, and homeless advocates say it was inevitable that people would make their way back to the beach.
“Now they swept the library and put up a fence and people are going back to the boardwalk and Venice residents are shocked?” homeless advocate Mark Horvath said. “Come on.”
Ryavec says he’s not shocked, simply frustrated. He leads the Venice Stakeholders Association, a group critical of the way that the city has managed homelessness. He says there’s only one overnight enforcement team getting people off the sand and is eyeing a change in city leadership come November to set things straight.
“And the elected officials won’t see this as a civil right issue but will see this as a housing and treatment issue,” Ryavec said. “Because as long as it’s all about the rights of the homeless to do whatever they want we will never get out of this.”
The focus on housing is actually something Horvath can agree on. Horvath runs a media group that has been documenting the homeless crisis in Los Angeles for more than a decade, and he says the city doesn’t have nearly the services or housing it needs — and getting people off the beach or out of a park is not enough if there’s nowhere to go.
“If we just keep pushing people from neighborhood to neighborhood without getting people into housing and reducing homeless numbers, I don’t even want to think about the homelessness we’re going to see in a year of five years,” Horvath said.