By Anne Alvarez
Have you ever wanted to ask a city official: “Can you provide an accurate accounting of the money generated by the City-Owned, County-Operated parking Spaces in Venice – and where is the money being spent?”
That is what VNC member Jake Kaufman asked Zev Yaroslavsky L.A County supervisor and guest speaker at Venice Neighborhood Council’s (VNC) monthly meeting.
To which Yaroslavsky did not have an answer, however the following day his office sent this response to Kaufman: “ Kerry Silverstrom from (L.A County Dept) Beaches and Harbors said they only manage the three lots in the sand (Washington, Venice and Rose). Those spaces generate roughly $3.5 million in annual revenue, and is used to offset the cost of operating the beaches.
“The County maintains the beaches the City has jurisdiction over them and the California Coastal Commission (CCC) plans and regulates the use of land and water in the coastal zone.
The CCC had this to say about the OFW ordinance when asked about it by the Beachhead in February: “The city does not have any approval from the CCC to implement the ordinance.” And according to Yaroslavsky the city is solely responsible for implementation,in particular the L.A.P.D.
Another prevalent subject at the meeting was the issue of homelessness. Yaroslavsky, known as one of Los Angeles leading political advocates for homeless issues, created a county pilot program in 2008 called Project 50, aimed at identifying and providing permanent housing to the 50 people most likely to die on the streets of L.A.’s Skid Row.
Many criticized Yaroslavsky’s efforts, including his colleagues; however since founding the program, 130 people have been placed in permanent housing and provided with a wide variety of social services including medical treatment, mental health counseling, rehab, job training and placement.
Other cities have replicated similar programs, including Santa Monica, the combined number of people permanently sheltered by all cities is 640 including participants in Project 50. The program’s success inspired the Veterans Administration in co-ordination with Yaroslavsky to create “Project 60” using the same methods to help homeless veterans in Los Angeles.
According to the Supervisor’s Senior Field Deputy Flora Gil Krisiloff and co-creator of Project 60 “since its inception 120 extremely sick and fragile veterans have been placed in permanent housing.”
All of this has been done in conjunction with Ocean Park Community Center in Santa Monica, St. Joseph’s Center in Venice, Hollywood’s Step Up on Second, and San Fernando’s Valley Mental Health Center, all of which help to identify and treat the homeless veterans, whom are then housed with VA vouchers.
This January along with Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas, Yaroslavsky helped establish The Los Angeles County Interdepartmental Council on Homelessness(LACICH), whose goal is to bring together the County stakeholder departments and agencies to coordinate the County’s efforts to end homelessness in the community.
Yaroslavsky was asked about the recent mistreatment of dozens of homeless people who lost their personal belongings when a homeless encampment at 3rd Ave. between Rose and Sunset Avenues in Venice Beach was raided, he stated that was the city not the county’s doing as he is not a fan of sending in the police to harass homeless people. He added “you’ve got a problem in this community which needs to be addressed NOW” there’s a gentle way to go about this, in a civilized way.
When the county is involved in cooperation with the L.A.P.D, we ask people to decamp and gather their belongings by a certain time, if they don’t, we gather their belongings and store them at a facility in Marina Del Rey where they can later be retrieved.
Yaroslavsky said there are two main concerns pertaining to homelessness: 1. We’ve got to find permanent housing 2. Solving the problem here and now, this is something the community needs to come together and figure out. He made it clear that he thinks transitional housing doesn’t work as he feels the money spent on such services could be applied towards finding the homeless permanent placement.
Other matters addressed to the Supervisor was the gridlock that recent construction has brought to our area as well as the public health issue of broken restrooms, to which Michael Tripp from department of Beaches & Harbors (DBH) responded, “we are in charge of the sand and the parking, the city is in charge of the bathrooms.”
In response to a question about fixing the Venice parking lot, Tripp assured Venetians that “DBH is trying to have repaving complete before summer season begins.”
When asked about a possible run for Mayor in 2013, he replied “I have not made a decision and as soon as I do I will let the world know.”
When asked if he supports the effort to save the Venice Post Office from being moved from its current location, he said yes.
If you are interested in finding ways to help the homeless in our community, you can contact:
Zev Yaroslavsky at (213) 974-3333 or e-mail [email protected] 500 West Temple Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012
For issues pertaining the city ( public restrooms, OFW ordinance). Bill Rosendahl at 310-575-8461 or [email protected]
Beach parking lot issues contact: Department of Beaches and Harbors at 310-305-9508 Vivian Sanner (parking unit) or e-mail beaches.lacounty.gov