A group of women will risk a citation on Aug. 23 when they march topless along the Venice Beach boardwalk. The march is part of an annual call for equal rights for women who want to go bare-breasted in public.
Topless women, joined by shirtless men, will walk from the northern end of Ocean Front Walk to the center of the boardwalk at Windward Circle, where a rally will be held urging lawmakers to allow women to go topless.
Lara Terstenjak is the head of the Los Angeles branch of GoTopless, the organization sponsoring the march, she says the movement plans to push further afield than just Venice, “We’re working toward freeing women’s nipples and obtaining equal gender topless rights that are enforced worldwide.”
In May supporters of Free the Nipple LA hit the sand, topless, at Venice Beach in a stand for gender equality. While the protest took the form of a relaxed day at the beach, eventually LAPD Mounted Unit did arrive on the scene and women exposing nipples where asked to cover up, or risk a citation.
“There was a guy there and when they told us we had to cover up one of the police officers said to him “Well you don’t have to cover your nipples” and I was like, that’s the point that we’re going for…” said Ali Marsh, activist for Free the Nipple LA.
Currently it is illegal for any female over the age of 10 years old to go bare-breasted in public.
In a 12-2 vote on April 21st this year, the Venice Neighborhood Council said it “supports women being afforded the same rights as men to sunbathe topless.”
Terstenjak noted that the while Venice Neighborhood Council approved the resolution in support of women going topless, such a change would require action by the city and the county.
“The Venice Neighborhood Council’s approval is a hopeful step forward after our eight years of activism on Venice Beach,” Terstenjak said. “Now it’s time for the city and county to follow up by making equal gender topless rights a priority.” said Terstenjak
“While I appreciate the idea and find it interesting, right now my priorities for Venice are increasing public safety and housing the homeless,” LA City Councilman Mike Bonin said in a statement.
This is an op-ed from Councilmember Mike Bonin. Here he expands on recent coverage of ordinances, allowing the city to clean up sidewalks and parks, that were approved by the City Council and talks about solutions to the challenges presented by the increase in homelessness in Los Angeles’s neighborhoods.
By Mike Bonin
In recent years, Los Angeles has seen more progress in combating homelessness than it ever has — yet the problem is still getting worse.
Since 2011, the region has housed more than 23,000 people — a record number even by national standards. Yet homelessness is on the rise. Encampments are proliferating in our neighborhoods throughout the city. There are villages of tents on sidewalks from Venice to Van Nuys, and shantytowns in neighborhoods from Skid Row to San Pedro.
How is this possible? And how can we fix it?
The problem has roots in Los Angeles’ failure to provide sufficient housing and shelter. In 2006, the city got slapped hard by federal courts, which ruled that it was cruel and unusual punishment to forbid people from sleeping on sidewalks if there was not sufficient housing or shelter. In response, the city made a long-term commitment to build more housing, agreed to allow sidewalk camping, and enshrined that policy in a legally binding agreement.
Predictably, the stock of available housing has come nowhere close to meeting the demand. As a result, there are nearly 20,000 people in the city without shelter — and they are going where the law and the lack of resources is telling them to go: sidewalks, parks, and canyons.
While it must have been a tempting way for the city to wash its hands of the legal issue, this policy has been a disaster. The impacts have been as harmful as they should have been predictable: Encampments are increasing. The unsheltered homeless are falling deeper into chronic homelessness and mental illness. Neighborhood quality of life is being damaged. No one wins.
The ultimate solution to homelessness is providing housing first, with supportive services as needed. But even if we build exponentially more housing faster than we ever have, we will have tens of thousands of people without shelter for years. That’s not acceptable.
While we wait to build enough housing, we spend a tremendous amount of time and money dealing with the issue of encampments, but we focus very little on giving people an alternative to sidewalks. We can’t ignore the problem or wish it away. Housing first cannot mean housing only.
We need real alternatives to living in shanties — a menu of options between our sidewalks and our far too scarce permanent housing. That includes shared housing, bridge housing, sobering centers, transitional shelters, and even emergency shelters. We need options that keep people off the streets, out of risk, and engaged in case management and services unavailable on the street. We need to create and invest in a continuum of care rather than in our current policy of malignant neglect.
We must do better than a system of bare-bones, one-size-fits-all shelters that feel like prisons, and become permanent warehouses for people. We need specialized, welcoming centers or shared housing for couples, for families with children, for teenage runaways, for veterans and others. New York has begun to move toward this model. Agencies there have begun to implement a new “safe haven” system of shelters to lure the chronically unsheltered and service resistant from the streets. Officials are creating a series of round-the-clock “drop-in” centers. Churches and synagogues are opening small overnight “respite programs.”
We should do that here.
The issue of the unsheltered homeless population in Los Angeles is daunting. Citywide, 73 percent of our homeless go without shelter. Addressing this problem will require significant investment from and partnership with other levels of government. We will need money from the state, and from the county, and its health, mental health and social service agencies. We will need partners in the private sector and in the faith communities. We will likely need to change or suspend some land-use regulations to make it easier to create more housing and shelter options.
This will be challenging. It will cost money and political capital — neither of which is unlimited, and both of which are needed to build permanent supportive housing. We need more of both. We cannot ignore the enormous gap between our small supply of permanent housing and our tremendous demand. And we cannot ignore the costs and consequences — to our unhoused and unsheltered neighbors and to our neighborhoods — of the City of Angels being a City of Encampments.
Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin is a member of the council’s Committee on Homelessness.
A year ago today 20-year old Nick Fagnano was fatally struck by lightning on Venice Beach. The strike, which witnesses say appeared to come out of nowhere, injured 13 others.
Today, from 11am until sunset a small group of family and friends will gather on Venice Beach at the volleyball nets at Driftwood Ave., near the south end of the Washington Blvd., parking lot at Venice Pier. to celebrate Fagnano’s life.
“So many people loved Nick” said his Mother, Mary Fagnano “When he used to work at the Ace Hotel in Downtown his nickname was Sparkles – he just lit up the room”
Monday’s gathering will celebrate Fagnano and the community he created throughout his life. It will also be an opportunity to reflect on the work that is being done in the young man’s name in the areas of education and recreation through the Thrive in Joy Foundation, and also, in beach safety.
On June 30, 2015, for the first time LA Country Lifeguards closed all beaches due to lightning, a precaution instituted after last year’s lightning strike.
A traditional day of beach activities has been planned for the memorial. Including, a picnic-style lunch, and dinner for family, friends, and supporters of the Thrive in Joy Nick Fagnano Foundation.
The day will also include two special tributes. One at 2:30 p.m.: marking the approximate time of the lightning strike last year. Friends, family, and anyone who happens to be in the area and wants to join the tribute are invited to join in forming the shape of a huge heart on the beach.
Then a sunset there will be a candlelight commemoration and celebration of Nick.
Fagnano’s Mother, Mary Fagnano, says the family feel very connected to the Venice Community and invite anyone who was effected by last years incident to come and join the gathering.
Monday also marks the first anniversary of the Thrive in Joy Nick Fagnano Foundation. The charity was created by Fagnano’s parents, Mary and Jay Fagnano in order to continue their Son’s impact on the world by encouraging and rewarding character through education and recreation.
So far this year the Foundation has built an endowment in Nick’s name providing an annual scholarship for a transfer student to USC’s Sol Price School of Public Policy whose mission is to “improve the quality of life for people and their communities here and abroad.”
The Foundation has also presented financial awards for outstanding character to a graduating student at Nick’s two alma maters: St. Brendan grade school in Los Angeles and Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks.
As well as providing support for two Dominican Republic projects: Collegio de Tia Tatiana, a school for preschool through high school students as well as Remar, an orphanage in one of the poorest urban communities in Santo Domingo.
The Foundation’s Dominican Republic initiatives where inspired by a charity drive for baseball equipment Fagnano had arranged when he was only 13. The young baseball fan and little leaguer was moved to action when he heard of young people in the Dominican Republic who were unable to play because they had no equipment.
Fagnano’s untimely death has brought an extended, eclectic group of family, friends, and community members together for the past year.
The Venice Chamber of Commerce continues it’s Fitness Fridays. Local Venice business owner, Robin Solo of Turning Point Pilates, will be tomorrow’s special guest instructor.
Solo will host a 50 minute Pilates Mat class at Penmar Park. The class kicks off at 12 noon.
Now in it’s third week, Fitness Fridays is an 8-week series aimed at all fitness levels, encouraging locals to work out in the afternoon. There is no charge to participate and members are encouraged to invite friends and colleagues.
Chamber members meet at 12:00 noon, at the corner of Rose and Penmar Avenue, for a one-hour exercise session led by personal trainers, yoga instructors and other fitness professionals.
Hosted by a different member studio and trainer every Friday, members attending will experience a variety of practices, such as yoga and pilates, that will help add more diversity to their existing workout or for many, introduce them to ways they can have fun while exercising.
“Fitness Fridays was created in response to members wanting to have a variety of get-togethers beyond the monthly mixers and happy hours,” said Carl Lambert, president of The Venice Chamber of Commerce. “We are proud to add another activity that engages local business professionals and the community that, like the Venice Art Crawl and the Holiday Sign Lighting, exemplifies the creative and innovative spirit of Venice.”