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Homeless in Venice pose problems for businesses

April 7, 2009 |  9:43 am

Eveline Popp lives in a battered recreational vehicle on the streets of Venice.  The 76-year-old woman is at the center of a controversy in the upscale beachside community.

In a non-binding neighborhood election, Venice residents recently voted to restrict overnight parking because the Westside district had become a magnet for people who live in their cars and campers. The plan must be approved by the California Coastal Commission, which has jurisdiction over areas near the beach.

But opponents of the plan say it will punish people such as Popp simply for being homeless. Popp, who lives in her cramped vehicle with her prized puppet collection, said she understands the concerns of residents and business owners. But she said that people living in their vehicles need a place to sleep and that the city has a responsibility to set up special areas for homeless people and their vehicles.

“I think there’s places where we can go,” Popp said.

Venice business owner Paige Clay agrees, saying the city needs to help solve the issue. Clay’s business, Flake restaurant, sits near a hot spot of homelessness and RV parking.  Homeless people  frequently drink on the streets near her business, she said, and gather near several recreational vehicles parked  across the street.

“It’s a safety issue mostly for us and a quality of life issue,” Clay said.

-- Robert J. Lopez


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