Unanimous Yes for Homeless Plan

3:22pm

The county Board of Supervisors approved a wide- ranging set of strategies today aimed at combating homelessness, ranging from
increasing housing subsidies to boosting the income of homeless families.

Homelessness is “the most serious humanitarian crisis confronting our county today,” county CEO Sachi Hamai said. A 12.4 percent jump in homelessness countywide from 2013-15 caught the attention of public officials. Though the results of a recent homeless count are not yet available, the last estimate by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority is that 44,359 county residents are homeless.

The “unsheltered” population living in tents, makeshift shelters and
vehicles has grown even more dramatically, up 85 percent over the same two-year time period to more than 9,300 people, according to LAHSA.

A video showing what Hamai called the “critical stakes” featured a
family with small children who had been forced to live in their 1997 Chevy Suburban when both parents lost their jobs and a Lancaster attorney who lost his home to drug addiction.

“My attitude before I became homeless was, `How could you be
homeless?'” attorney Don Arnold said of the people he used to pass on the street on his way to work, “now I understand.”

The board’s strategies follow recommendations by the county’s Homeless Initiative task force, established last year when the board committed to spending more than $100 million on the problem. “This plan is ambitious and … achievable,” Hamai said.

The 47 strategies drive six objectives, including preventing
homelessness, subsidizing housing, increasing income, providing case management and services, creating a coordinated system and increasing affordable housing.

Together they are expected to “bring widespread humanitarian relief to our most vulnerable neighbors” and save the county money, LAHSA Executive Director Peter Lynn told the board.

The county spends nearly $1 billion annually to provide medical, mental health and social services to homeless people, as well as to pay for the deputies and probation officers who work with the homeless population.

About 5 percent of that population consumes 40 cents of every dollar spent, according to county research. The board agreed to prioritize services for those individuals.

“A real bed is much less expensive than a jail bed or a hospital bed,”
Phil Ansell, director of the Homeless Initiative, told the board.

The first phase of work, to begin no later than June 30, is focused on
strategies expected to have the most impact in the shortest time frame. The county is set to spend $42 million over 12 months, helping 3,500 people off the streets and preventing another 2,000 from becoming homeless.

In addition to providing more housing subsidies in a variety of forms,
the first phase will include strengthening the shelter system as an entry point to a broader set of services.

Phase one priorities also include finding work for those who face
barriers such as criminal records or substance abuse problems and making sure that disabled individuals are receiving federal benefits, putting both groups in a position to pay for their own housing.

Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Don Knabe highlighted the concerns of domestic violence victims.

“In 2015, nearly 65 percent of all homeless women reported that they had been victims of domestic violence. Our … motion will explore ways to ensure that individuals and families fleeing domestic violence are provided adequate housing and services,” Kuehl said.

A summit is planned to help pin down specific city initiatives with each of the county’s 88 municipalities.The mayors of several of those cities, including Inglewood, Lynwood, Lawndale, Culver City, West Hollywood, Compton, Torrance, and El Monte joined
the board to show their support.

“Many hard-working families that have bought into the American dream are literally one catastrophe, unplanned expense, job loss or illness away from being displaced,” Compton Mayor Aja Brown told the board.

Many of the county strategies rely, at least in part, on city
implementation. The Los Angeles City Council has been coordinating with county officials and approved its own set of initiatives today, projected to cost $1.87 billion over a decade.

Mayor Eric Garcetti, through a spokesman, called the county’s plan
“bold and visionary.” The county strategies are detailed, but the specifics of implementation and the source of funding for future years are yet to be worked out. The board was optimistic.
“The plan makes no claim about perfection, but … we will make
substantial progress,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said.

The vote was unanimous.

– from CNS

Housing First a Solution for LA Homeless?

9:25am

The Los Angeles City Council and the County Board of
Supervisors will vote today on a pair of plans aimed at ending homelessness, chiefly by making permanent housing available to tens of thousands of people who are homeless.

When the plans were released in January, county and city officials said they laid out a path for improving co-ordination among service providers and government agencies, setting up a centralized case management system to direct the homeless to services, and pushing a “housing first” approach, as opposed to the shelter-focused strategy that has long been used.

For the city, which has more than half of the estimated 44,000 homeless people in the county, the strategic plan lays out ways in which about $100 million in city funds could be spent in the upcoming year, and potentially $1.8 billion over the next decade.

City leaders, including Mayor Eric Garcetti and several City Council
members, announced a plan last year to dedicate about $100 million in city general funds toward homelessness.

“With this blueprint, the city is going to commit itself to move
forward with the short and long-term plans on better addressing
homelessness,” said City Councilman Jose Huizar, who co-chairs the
Homelessness and Poverty Committee.

Huizar’s co-chair on the committee, Marqueece Harris-Dawson, said the plan also represents “unprecedented level of focus and commitment of getting to zero homelessness.”

If the city’s strategic plan is adopted, “the real test” will be in
how the city will come up with the $100 million, which may require that other city expenses be scaled back, according to Huizar.

“The real critical piece is going to come when we discuss the budget
for the next fiscal year and put some money behind the recommendations,” he said.

Homeless in Venice
A Homeless Camp in Venice beach

Huizar said some of those budget discussions may include looking at how much the city will spend on enforcement of laws that directly affects people living on the streets, such as a controversial law adopted last year that makes it easier for the city to remove items from the streets and dismantle encampments.

Some advocates for the homeless who live in the Skid Row area in
downtown Los Angeles, have criticized the plan as failing to address how the city enforces such laws.

Eric Ares, a community organizer with Los Angeles Community Action Network, said there are no guidelines for how police officers should interpret such laws in the 200-plus pages of the city strategic plan, which includes one page devoted to the role of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Ares said the issue of enforcement should not be a separate conversation from that of the strategic plan, adding that he feels city officials were “very, very intentional about trying to talk about them (homelessness and enforcement) separately.”
A controversial law, known as 56.11, that would make it easier for city officials to throw away items, such as homeless encampments, that are left on sidewalks will not be part of today’s vote, and will likely be considered by the Homelessness and Poverty Committee later this month or in early March.

Ares said a detailed plan for enforcement should be added to strategic plan, noting that negative encounters with police officers, who often accompany service providers, deters many who are homeless from taking advantage of services. Criminal records or citation records may also make it more difficult for the homeless to qualify for certain services, Ares said.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is also expected to vote on their draft plan, which includes 47 recommendations covering six goals, which are to prevent homelessness, subsidize housing costs, increase income, provide case management and services, create a coordinated system for homeless services and increase affordable housing.

-from CNS

Venice Sheds a Tear for Shuttering Stalwarts

9:13am

By Melanie Camp

Venice has suffered another blow to the old guard with both Joe’s Restaurant and Roosterfish announcing, in the same week, that they will be saying goodbye to the neighborhood. Their departures fur- ther adding to the changing face of Abbot Kinney Blvd.

Locals expressed outrage on social media regarding the shutterings, Yvonne Sjostrand writing on Facebook in a response to the news that Joe’s would be closing: “everything old Venice seems to go away slowly one by one. Soon we all have to start our story with remember when…”

On twitter Frank Fox wrote: “Gentrification has finally hit me where it hurts. If hipsters turn Roosterfish into some vegan vodka bar, I’m out of Venice! Nothing Left!”

It seems indeed that gentrification is playing a part in the demise of Roosterfish. After original owner, Walter Schneider, passed away 10 years ago, Gary Mick took over the bar saying he has, “been a fortu- nate trustee.” Roosterfish had been offered a new lease, Mick says it was one they chose not to accept. Adding that he is beginning to wonder how any business can survive on Abbot Kinney with the current cost of commercial leases, “it’s getting to be more about bragging rights. Location, location.”

James Allen from Coldwell Banker Preview Estates has been a realtor in Venice for almost 20 years. Over the last few years Allen says he’s witnessed the jump in price per square foot on Abbot Kinney. Allen says the Roosterfish building owner is asking $17 a square foot per month.

Venice business rentals average $7 to $8 per square foot, according to Allen, with Abbott Kinney commanding prices between $10 and $17 a square foot.

Joe's Restaurant Venice
After Nearly 25 Years in Venice Joe’s Restaurant will Close on Valentine’s Day

“This jump in the price per square foot over the last few years brought on by the ‘Gentrification of Venice’ is really changing the landscape. Popular Venice businesses such as Hal’s, Joe’s Restaurant, and the Roosterfish can no longer pay these exorbitant rents and these places, that have been local favorites for years, are one-by-one having to leave the Venice area for good,” says Allen.

As far as relocating, Mick says, “Roosterfish is a one of a kind creation, made what it is by the folks passing it’s threshold. It’s unlikely that we would relocate with that name,” adding that there are no plans for a new bar either, at this time.

“In the 37 years we have seen the gay community grow to be more mainstream. Gay rights, gay marriage. We have a long way to go for perfect equality, but we will persevere as we always have,” says Mick.

Sadly for Venice and the Westside LGBT Community, the bar, which has been Los Angeles’ longest continually running gay bar, will not persevere. In May Roosterfish will call last drinks for the last time, shutting the doors forever to the iconic aqua location, “there’s a

lotta history in here,” says Seth who works at the bar, “and until we close in May we’re going to give it a good more 3 months.”

Roosterfish 3
LA’s Longest Running Gay Bar Set To Say Goodbye

“In the early days the neighborhood was pretty ghetto,” Mick adds
. “We still have a hole in the ceiling were a bartender shot his gun off in the bar, back in the day. We have witnessed dark times in gay history along with everyone in the country. Lucky for us Venice is a fairly forgiving place to be. A message for the Venice community? Thank you for the pleasure. My crew and I have had a ball! Happy trails to you.”

In a heartfelt email message to those on the Joe’s Restaurant mailing list, Chef Joseph Miller made the announcement that his restaurant would be saying goodbye to Venice writing, “after 24 years, I have decided to close Joe’s Restaurant. My restaurant. I have had a great run bringing Farmer’s Market-driven, fine-dining to Abbot Kinney. I have seen this community through many changes.”

Miller says that the decision to close came with mixed feelings, and he hopes locals, “who have frequented my restaurant over the years will find time before the 14th of February to come in for one more meal and to say good- bye. But most of all, I want to say, thank you.”

With this Valentine’s Day being the last day of business at Joe’s Restaurant there is sure to be a whole lot of love pouring out to the place that has been on Abbot Kinney for almost a quarter of a century…and may be after dinner, everyone can filter down the street for a nightcap at Roosterfish. A farewell tour of two Venice OGs.

Read more on Joe’s Restaurant here and more on Roosterfish here.

Venice Yoga Goers Hot Targets For Early Morning Crime

12:08am

LAPD Pacific Division has been patrolling Abbot Kinney Blvd., and nearby streets in unmarked cars, cracking down on a recent spate of home and car break-ins that have occurred in the area.

LAPD Pacific Division PCU
LAPD Pacific PCU; (L to R) David Navas, TK Kim, “The” Scotty Stevens, Mauricio Vargas, Manny Perez, Isidro Mendoza, & Robert Espinoza (Not pictured)

Sgt Scotty Stevens of LAPD Pacific said that people heading to early morning yoga and spin classes have been the main targets, with burglars waiting until classes have started before they begin breaking into parked cars.

Burglers Target Early Morning Fitness Crowd on Abbot Kinney 3
Burglars are targeting the early morning workout crowd on Abbot Kinney

“Car burglaries are a problem in the area, not just on Abbott Kinney, but the trend has been at gyms and yoga studios very early in the morning. After people begin to arrive, burglars will walk the parking area and check for un-locked doors. If none are found, they will look for cars with valuables that are visible. They shatter the window and grab whatever they can. Takes only a few seconds,” Stevens said.

The unmarked patrols have meant to officers have had more chance catching criminals in the act, however, Stevens added that there are precautions that can be taken to help prevent these crimes alto- gether.

“Do not leave anything valuable in your car. If you must, put it in the trunk. Also, lock your car. You would be amazed at the number of thefts that occur from unlocked cars,” Stevens said.

Venice Canals History in New KCET Series

11:42

The history of the Venice Canals will feature in an upcoming episode of KCET’s newest original TV series LOST LA.  The series explores LA’s forgotten LA’s forgotten history in a series of short videos created by emerging local filmmakers based on original material from USC Libraries archives.

Premiering this Wed., Feb. 10 at 8:30 p.m. on KCET.  The episode, “Reshaping LA,” details how the city altered it’s topography to suit it’s evolving needs, including “lost” tunnels and the vanished canals of Venice Beach.

LOST LA has been created in partnership with the University of Southern California Libraries. The series is based on KCET’s “LA as Subject” web series written by LA historian Nathan Masters.

The three-part series, which Masters hosts, explores stories from L.A.’s past that have been lost to folklore, including wildlife and wildfires; the Elysian Hills before Dodger Stadium’s construction; and defunct tunnels, canals and hills.

The nine filmmakers use techniques, that range from rotoscoping to cinema verité, to bring the primary sources of L.A. history to the screen in surprising new ways.

LOST LA is the latest broadcast special to come out of KCET’s online to on-air incubation model where high-trafficked web content is produced for broadcast.

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