Venice homeowners and residents who filed a lawsuit accusing Los Angeles city officials of neglecting a variety of problems they link to transients who camp overnight at the nearby beach, announced today a judge has allowed their case to move forward.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Gregory Alarcon this morning rejected
efforts by city and county attorneys to dismiss the lawsuit filed by the Venice
Stakeholders Association, saying the plaintiffs may have a case when it comes
to nuisance-abating steps that do not infringe on the rights of the homeless or
are “not necessarily tied to immunities or constitution violations.”
Alarcon wrote in his denial that “the pleading is sufficiently broad in
scope” so that it could cover “simple issues such as cleanup, other than
more concerning issues of law enforcement or homeless rights.”
Rob Wilcox, spokesman for the City Attorney’s Office, said the city
“strongly” disagrees with the judge’s ruling and there are plans to “seek
immediate appellate review.”
Mark Ryavec, president of the Venice Stakeholders Association, said he
and other plaintiffs are “heartened by the court’s support of our position
that the city and county have a legal responsibility to abate the nuisance,
which they are allowing to exist in the Venice Beach Recreation Area.”
“Just like all other owners who are responsible for their property, the
city and county need to be held responsible to residents for the harm we
experience,” Ryavec said.
In their initial 2014 complaint, Ryavec and other plaintiffs contend
that during the previous five years, “on almost a daily basis,” the city and
county “have failed to control and maintain” the Venice beach area 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.”
The complaint faulted the city for failing to enforce an ordinance that
restricts people from setting up encampments to sleep overnight at the beach
area, which is considered a park owned by the city and partly managed by the
The group’s attorney, Kristina Kropp, said today that while the
stakeholder group has separately taken issue with transients camping overnight
at the beach, the case moving forward today is not targeted at the homeless,
but rather at the existence of the illegal activity and nuisance problems.
Kropp added there may be “different groups” that are the source of the
troublesome activity, not just transients.
Ryavec said enforcing a revised version of the ordinance that restricts
encampments at city parks “would address a significant aspect of the
nuisance,” as would enforcing park curfews and drug laws, the city has
“prosecutorial discretion,” which allows city officials to decide which laws
they wish to enforce.
Mayor Eric Garcetti recently directed the city to suspend enforcement of
that ordinance, and another one for sidewalks, that gives the city a process
for removing items left on the street, including the encampments of the
Ryavec contends that unlike the street encampment ordinance, the law
addressing encampments at city parks has not been the subject of legal
challenges, so the city should not have suspended enforcement on it.
Ryavec said the group’s message to the city is that “this is a problem,
you have to fix it.”
“Either they (the city) stop the nuisance, or they get to compensate us
with a lot of money, and we can use that to pay for security,” Ryavec said.