Venice group threatens lawsuit over camping along boardwalk
A nonprofit group in Venice sent Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa a letter this week demanding that city leaders remove encampments along the Venice Boardwalk, saying the city is treating different parts of the city differently when it comes to illegal camping.
In a letter that also went to Councilman Bill Rosendahl, the Venice Stakeholders Assn. said “Skid Row”-type conditions had developed along the boardwalk, with tents, sleeping bags, bedrolls and other personal possessions lining the walkway. That situation, the group says, is a far cry from the “pristine” conditions on the City Hall south lawn, which received new landscaping and anti-camping signs in the wake of the Occupy L.A. encampment.
“L.A.’s politicians spent over a million dollars to restore their City Hall Park and are enforcing every conceivable law to keep it attractive,” said Mark Ryavec, president of the Venice Stakeholders Assn., in a statement. “But along Venice Boardwalk, the Department of Recreation and Parks and the LAPD allow campers to violate a slew of city laws against using camping equipment and storing personal property on park land and City rights-of-way.”
Ryavec said his group has retained an attorney and will sue if the city fails to act. The City Hall park reopened last month, but only after the council added new provisions to its ban on camping in city parks.
“Clearly our lawyer believes there’s a public nuisance suit here. Cities bring them against private property owners all the time, only in this case it’s the municipality with the public nuisance.”
A spokesman for Villaraigosa said he believed the mayor had not seen the letter. Rosendahl, whose district includes Venice, had no comment. His chief of staff, Mike Bonin, said the letter had been forwarded to the city's lawyers.
-- David Zahniser
Photo: Homeless sleep on grassy area along Venice Beach. Credit: Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times