Political tension rises over homelessness in Venice

Unhoused people have tents set up along the Venice Beach Boardwalk, May 22, 2021. Photo by Shutterstock.

LA City Councilman Joe Buscaino is running to replace Mayor Eric Garcetti, and he held his first official campaign event on Monday along the Venice Beach boardwalk. LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva was also in the area. When people in the crowd saw an unhoused woman standing nearby holding a knife, police immediately detained her as onlookers jeered at her.

Over the last year, the visibility of homelessness in Venice has increased, says KCRW reporter Anna Scott. Outside of Skid Row, the area is home to the largest population of unsheltered residents in Los Angeles.

“Venice is a world-famous tourist destination. It also has many homeowners who are very vocal on this issue and have been for a long time. So for all those reasons, it is a real flashpoint right now.”

LA City Councilman Mike Bonin says he understands that there is a crisis in Venice and action needs to be taken.

“I walked down the boardwalk and my blood boils. And you can do one of two things with that anger. You can use that anger to sort of rage blindly, oppose housing and shelter or services, as the sheriff has done, and as some of the people who were there yesterday have done. Or you can use it and you can double down, and you can focus on providing the housing and the services that we need.”