LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A residents group filed a lawsuit today against the
city and county of Los Angeles, alleging public officials have allowed
dangerous conditions and nuisance problems to continue in Venice by failing to
enforce no-camping rules on the beach and boardwalk.
“It has long been evident that the city and county enforce `no camping’
laws in all of their parks, except the Venice Beach Recreation Area,” said
Mark Ryavec, president of the Venice Stakeholders Association.
He compared the “pristine condition of the park next to City Hall or
Grand Park next to the Hall of Administration” in downtown Los Angeles with
that of the Venice Beach Recreation Area, which he said has been getting
“unequal treatment” from city and county officials.
The City Attorney’s Office declined to respond to the lawsuit, which
also names Venice residents and property owners Gary Harris, Jack Hoffmann,
Arthur Kraus, David Krintzman and Brad Neal as plaintiffs.
County officials also declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.
The plaintiffs contend that during the past five years, “on almost a
daily basis,” the city and county “have failed to control and maintain” the
Venice Boardwalk and surrounding areas by allowing “transients and other
individuals” to bring baggage, camping gear and personal belongings to the
area at “all hours of the day and night.”
“Venice residents, as well as visitors, are precluded from enjoying a
stroll along the boardwalk, from walking their dog along the boardwalk or on
the adjoining grass areas, or from sitting quietly under the pagodas or on the
benches by the skate park, for fear of the danger presented by the constant
presence of mentally ill and/or drug or alcohol-addicted individuals,” the
Attorney Rob Glushon said state law requires property owners to keep
their property in a condition that does not cause harm to others.
“Both the city and county need to take action to abate the intolerable
conditions at Venice Beach, which are a serious threat to public health and
safety,” Glushon said.
Ryavec said the recreation area at Venice Beach resembles a “lawless
Skid Row encampment” where “open drug sales and use, loud late-night noise
and public inebriation, urination and defecation is routinely permitted.”
Public officials have not responded to the group’s demand to clean up
the area, he said.
“The lack of enforcement of existing laws makes the hundreds of campers
living along Venice Beach feel they can do anything they want with
impunity,” Ryavec said. “The result is that harassment, intimidation,
trespass, vandalism, home invasions and burglaries are common.”
Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck and Councilman Mike Bonin — who
represents the area — were in Venice Wednesday to discuss public safety issues
with local residents and property owners.
Bonin posted a message via his Facebook page, saying Beck came to the
area “to see our public safety challenges firsthand, and to talk with
residents.” He thanked the chief “for spending time with your hard-working
officers who juggle so many duties in an iconic spot that is simultaneously a
residential neighborhood, a business district, a park and an international
“The chief spoke with weary residents and business owners who pleaded
for more cops, got screamed at by a snake charmer, witnessed an arrest, had his
path blocked by police tape due to a suspicious package, and got photo-bombed
by scores of French tourists,” the councilman wrote.
In a March blog post on his website, Bonin defended efforts to control
activity in the area, saying “a lot of us are tired and bored with those who
insist that safety and cleanliness are part of some agenda to gentrify the
beach or stamp out the Venice spirit.”
“Diverse does not mean dirty. Funky does not mean filthy. Creative does
not mean criminal. And unique does not mean unsafe,” he wrote.
He promised to “do a helluva lot more to make Venice safer and cleaner
for residents and visitors, for poets and artists, musicians and performers,
surfers and skaters, basketball players and volleyball players, kids and
The City Council also budgeted $500,000 this year for the Bureau of
Sanitation to clear up abandoned trash in the Venice area.