Spielberg, Ben Affleck, others may have to make way for homeless in their swanky LA locales

Some well-to-do neighborhoods near Los Angeles that are home to Hollywood stars may soon see homeless camps like those that litter downtown as the number of people living on the street continues to rise.

The Washington Examiner reports that thousands of homeless have now crammed into a two-mile strip of Venice, home to an outdoor beachside gym where the likes of former bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger and others pumped iron.  Venice is only about three miles square, but there are an estimated 4,000 homeless people who now live there, Soledad Ursua, a member of the Venice Neighborhood Council’s Board of Directors, told the outlet.

That is nearly double the number of homeless in Venice last year and is close to surpassing the 4,600 or so homeless who live on Skid Row.

Ursua said that the area has become a cesspool of crime and filth, replete with rodents where fires often break out. The police department has been defunded as well, which means residents must largely rely on themselves to push back against a situation that is only getting worse.

According to L.A.P.D. stats, criminal violence, and robberies are up 177 percent over last year, with deadly weapon assaults having risen 116 percent.

“We are homeowners within a homeless encampment, it’s all around us,” Ursua told the outlet.. “You can get shot or stabbed. No one in their right mind would take their children there at night or in the day.”

A community group called FightBackVenice.org said it counted some 1,901 homeless in 2020, but an updated count hasn’t been taken due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That said, Ursua, who owns a home near the beach, believes the current homeless population is at least double that.

The worsening situation has left the City Council looking for ways to alleviate it, including relocating some homeless. But that idea has not gone over with with residents in those locations.

“All I hear is, ‘We don’t want to become Venice,’” said Ursua of well-to-do Californians in the targeted areas. “Well, now you know what we have been going through because it’s coming your way.”

According to a motion that has been submitted by L.A. City Councilman Mike Bonin, who represents the coastal district, ritzy neighborhoods like Playa del Rey, Marina del Rey, Pacific Palisades, and Culver City are being eyed as locations for so-called “tiny homes” for the homeless, as well as “safe campaign” and “RV safe parking.”

“When the Beach Boys sang about Pacific Palisades being one of their favorite spots in the hit song ‘Surfin’ U.S.A.,’ it’s safe to say the band never envisioned an infinite row of homeless tents up on the formerly pristine California coast, where $2.6 million is the average home price,” the Washington Examiner reported.

Entertainment figures who either lived in “the Palisades” at one point or currently live there include actors Ben Affleck, Billy Crystal, and Dan Akroyd; Sugar Ray Leonard, the former boxing champ; and directors J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg, the Examiner reported.

“They don’t have the homeless there, we have 90 percent of the beach’s homeless in Venice,” said Ursua. “Basically, all of Venice is homeless.”

As summer approaches, though, the situation is bound to get worse, analysts say, which is due to a number of factors. First, the city of L.A. has stopped enforcing a 1968 ordinance against camping on streets and in public areas. Also, a proposed “handful” of homeless shelters won’t make much of a difference, either, and Bonin’s proposal to cut LAPD patrols in the area as part of the left-wing ‘defund the police’ movement won’t do much to ensure tourists and residents alike will be safe.

California is home to one-fifth of the country’s homeless population, or more than 151,000 people — nearly 66,500 of which are located in Los Angeles. That’s up 20,000 people over the past five years, the Examiner reported.

Jon Dougherty

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