Quick Recap of Carol Sobel’s Presentation at VNC

Great presentation by Carol Sobel last night. She was invited to the VNC Homeless Committee for a presentation. I was interested in this because I only know of Carol Sobel from her work with the Jones Settlement. Being that we live in Venice and are surrounded by gentrification narratives and interests, the bulk of sentiments you hear about her are negative.

The meeting setup consisted of a 45 min presentation (maybe an hour) presentation from Carol Sobel followed by about a Q&A by the Homeless Committee staff and then about 40 minutes of public comment. Hopefully the Zoom archive gets posted soon but in the meantime this is what I recall. 


Here are some points she drove home (paraphrased with commentary.)

  • Garcetti, LA City Council, et al. have been advised years back that the problem was going to get worse if the city didn’t invest in permanent housing instead of shelters. Of course they haven’t done so and here we are. Instead it seems that Garcetti and other city council members held out those ideal low income housing location for upscale development projects.
  • Housing is much cheaper and effective than shelters or incarceration. One more time for people in the back. Housing is cheaper and more effective than shelters or incarceration which leads to.
  • There are quite a few good locations that can be used for housing in Venice
  • We can’t arrest/incarcerate ourselves out of the problem.  Not only is it not effective for rehabilitation (something that people like to bring up lately) it is not cost-effective to keep people in jail. You would think this obvious but since we often deal with an audience that is empowered by police presence it did not sit well with them.
  • Plumbing is essential. Reinforcing the concerns about hygiene and the inadequacy of shelters and impermanent housing, solution standards must incorporate plumbing. Which also touched on the question why the bathrooms at the boardwalk are not effectively open, denying many unhoused dignity for their most basic human need.
  • Structural racism is a root cause of the homeless epidemic. Of course a lot of gentry didn’t like this because it goes against their narrative that Bonin and Democrats are the sole problem, whereas this sentiment includes them in the equation, something I’ve been saying for years. Gentry’s continued co-signing of demos and gaslighting racial justice issues just exacerbates the issue. Mirrors can be a beautiful thing if one is really looking to reflect and do better. Clearly a large contingent of Venetians are not.’
  • Continuing to put housing and shelter projects in low income communities is perpetuating structural racism. Reinforcing her structural racism point above , a no brainer to Black and Brown folks but again, an actionable point that most of the “nice people” in Venice will probably ignore.

Come the staff Q&A questions and public comments it was clear that people didn’t try to listen to her. Instead, mostly local beneficiaries of Venice gentrification (BoGs) inserted their “facts” over her data and her experiential perspectives on homeless program and methodology efficacy. Some people had called in and said “I would like to take her on a walk down my street,” which I was trying to figure out the purpose for since Sobel had already expressed and acknowledged the challenges of living in proximity to such conditions. There was some speak about an unsubstantiated “gang problem” and a comment reinforced that notion. Surely there has been concerning random violence on the boardwalk but nothing close to a “gang issue” in the way it’s  being framed. Such manufactured talk only gives more room for designer laws and abusive law enforcement policies to target already marginalized populations. 

Nick Antonicello thoroughly blew up and cursed out Homeless Committee board member Michael Rapkin. Lydia Ponce thoroughly reminded beneficiaries of gentrification about their role in this epidemic. Rick Swinger got on with his usual phoney environmental drivel.  Margaret Molloy highlighted local gentrification interests on the VNC and Chamber of Commerce and their collusion with the Homeless epidemic, citing all the SnapChat buildings and owners, A formerly unhoused young lady beautifully reminded the mostly BoG callers that they are human too and they should refer to Unhoused folks as such. VNC at-large candidate, John and Ken Show, and Venice Breitbart favored, Chie Lunn made a weird rehearsed promotional speech. “Venetian” called in highlighting the abusive shenanigans and what sounds like elder abuse going on at St. Joseph’s.

Other comments expressed skepticism about Sobel’s sincerity because “she gets paid to sue the city” and “ she’s a Bonin supporter.” True or not as that may be her data and perspective is not far off from what most people know and want. The hard part for BoGs seemed to be that they were reminded of their role in this problem as well as the idea that local existing buildings in Venice would be fitting solution. Lot of that contingent of residents don’t like to be called NIMBY but it is pretty accurate for the most part as displayed by many  reactions last night.

Hopefully VNC president Ira Koslow puts the video out before the year is over so you can listen and watch yourself.