Greta Cobar

Backs Against The Ocean, Homeless People Persevere on OFW

By Greta Cobar

The poor are getting poorer and are being pushed further and further, until they reach the end of the rope, or the end of the world, also known as Venice Beach.

In the last few months hundreds of people have moved onto Ocean Front Walk (OFW), where they set up camp, almost shoulder to shoulder, night after night. Although this can be seen as a nuisance to the residents, a reason for the increased amount of trash on the Boardwalk or a danger to all because of the violence, drug use, prostitution and fearsome off-leash dogs, it actually is the reality facing our so-called “richest country” in the world.

Meantime the rich are getting richer, paying fewer taxes, getting more government money, widening the income gap and eliminating the middle class, increasing the number of children and adults living under the poverty line. The high unemployment rates reported are actually almost double by more accurate accounts.

When one reaches the end of the rope, and he or she is not allowed to hang on, what happens? Where do I go? What do I do? I don’t see how I’m gonna make it. Most of us have been asking ourselves these questions.

The Venice Stakeholders Association (VSA), responsible for lobbying against the now ex-RV dwellers and for posting overnight parking restriction signs against the rulings of the Coastal Commission, is now putting its efforts into getting rid of everyone who’s been pushed to the end of the world and has nowhere else to go.

John Henning, the attorney representing VSA, has sent a letter to City Attorney Carmen Trutanich advising that the city consider OFW, the cemented area between the grass and the residences and businesses facing the ocean, as part of the Venice Beach Recreation Area (VBRA). Categorizing it as such would make sleeping on OFW illegal pursuant to L.A.M.C. section 63.44(D), which makes it illegal to sleep in a city park. According to Henning’s letter, the Jones Settlement (2006), which allows people to lie on certain parts of the sidewalk between 9pm and 6am, would not apply to OFW if the area is considered to be part of a city park.

Linda Lucks, President of the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC), stated that she will oppose any police action against the people sleeping on OFW until they are offered an alternative. She is currently trying to open the West L.A. homeless shelter on October 15 instead of the scheduled annual date of December 1. For such a change to take place additional funding has to be allocated to run the shelter for the additional 45 days, and the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) has to approve the change.

Both Councilperson Bill Rosendahl and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa have provided funding to open the shelter earlier than previously planned, and Linda Lucks is scheduled to meet with LAHSA October 4 to seek the commission’s approval.

Although all shelters should be open year-round, the West L.A. shelter only has enough space for 150 persons and covers the entire West L.A. area, not just Venice. Meanwhile, there are a whole lot more than 150 people currently sleeping on OFW.

Venetians have historically been tolerant of alternative lifestyles and many old-time OFW residents were attracted to Venice because of the unconventionality of it all. However, the mayhem and never-ending noise that now takes place outside their front doors and windows every night is not much appreciated. But if Carmen Trutanich deems OFW to be part of a city park, nobody will be allowed to even walk in the entire area, which means that residents will not be able to enter or leave their homes and businesses will have to close earlier.

Previous efforts have attempted to displace people, such as cleaning out downtown to make space for the rows of condos occupied by wanna-be-cool yuppies. But as more and more of us are falling through the non-existent nets, we will be forced to get off our comfortable asses and take over Wall Street, OFW and whatever else we have been robbed of. And I can’t wait for the day when Libya sends troops to help us chase away the merciless, greedy ruling class and take over the government.

1 reply »

  1. Well, they don’t look to do any good for the boardwalk and the boardwalk is part of moving to OFW, and should be respected as it’s purpose is what Abbot Kinney deeded to the area. The lottery is gone and so the boardwalk is about the homeless way more than free speech artists with things to say…instead it’s about whatever you can find to sell, and anything goes, even junky art will do….but good artists come too. They stress on holding a square down something terrible. Generally saying if they are there every day they own the square.

    Apparently the expression that’s needed is that homelessness is one colossal unsolved issue raging in the faces of residents and tourists and shelter’s suck. Shelter’s don’t really exist, because they are a lie. They collect funding for the most ridiculous basics you can’t get on your feet again. They act like they have shelter’s and it’s just a bed and group shower and back to the streets often with hitchhiking bed bugs on the rolling suitcase zippers dropping off in the beach grasses and benches, and you have to cat and mouse around their schedule and deal with lines of people, drug addicts, alcoholics and thieves, that are generally unhappy and cranky and go to mysterious far away places in busses that have no place to work and save money for downpayments and first months rent much less enough money to afford to qualify for a place to rent.

    People finding themselves in Venice being stranded and homeless are definitely facing down a lot of crap, not to mention all the MRSA being spread from any blood sucking bugs…Staph doesn’t fall onto the toilet seat….it’s transmission of blood…I know, and got it on the ankles enough times after the bug bites and watched a few amputations of toes of fellow sidewalk sleepers that couldn’t beat it.

    For some reason society thinks shelter’s, and streets, and homelessness should be depressing because if you dare to run out of money, you should be punished and so some type of punishment seems to satisfy the bloodthirst of the greedy go getters that don’t give back…”never mind say some homeless, this is my karma resolution and it will likely happen to them one day too, they aren’t any better”, they are young and dumb and misled and allowing themselves to be as greedy as some homeless once were.

    All these homeless need to ask for money that is very substantial. But there is a confusion. Welfare and disability aren’t going up. Just minimum wage. The rich sit with the money and just want to play construction games to say they are “working” for their money, and they don’t create much types of start over situation for any homeless, unless you can handle going back to college.

    All that happens is they go down, down, down, because for some reason they can’t ask for substantial money to have a place, some of them did unspeakable things, other’s did bad things and some aren’t so bad, and made normal mistakes. Whose responsibility is this to make a fall back and correctional system in life that works? Society is staring them down. It’s a clear genocide. It’s a cause that’s worthy to care about. But the words genocide are seldom seen on the free speech beach. Hmmm. They say the homeless are on drugs, sex, rock and roll, and have issues so they assigned all these shelter plus care workers to qualify for section 8 now, who put them in apartments in poor areas, you know…drugs and bugs, that’s not very nice to the acceptable homeless. I got the package and off the streets and the budget was too low, it doesn’t work any better than minimum wage and even that’s going up now but not disability, no…it stagnates like the stalemate on the boardwalk homeless….It stagnates like an old Mexican standoff. 4 neighbors got evicted soon after I moved in and their hungry bed bugs traveled to my unit and I didn’t have the funds to pay for pest control. The slumlords refuse and call the tenants dirty and it’s their responsibility and legislation isn’t on the books in California like it is in New York… I spent several months catching bed bugs, crickets and spiders, by hand, then I learned to sleep in a bug tent and made a homemade hazmat suit but I still get bit about once a day now but it was a lot more. I got bit and got staph 3 times in Venice from the same types of bugs.

    The new construction won’t matter, the bugs will move in, it’s all over the news…office buildings spending thousands on those hard to eradicate bed bugs.

    Smiles, it’s going to be interesting.