LA Sheriff Villanueva, Citing Politicians' Inaction, Says He'll Clear Venice Beach Homeless Camp
L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has inserted himself into the homelessness situation in Venice Beach, visiting the area with several deputies this week after announcing his department is stepping in to clear the encampment there.
"Today I visited the Venice Boardwalk again to view the failures of local politicians in regard to the homeless crisis," Villanueva tweeted on Monday.
(1/2) Today I visited the Venice Boardwalk again to view the failures of local politicians in regard to the homeless crisis. Tomorrow the @LASDHQ Homeless Outreach Services Team (HOST) will be assessing Venice in order to triage the crisis and develop an action plan to… pic.twitter.com/GaOhxjbnux— Alex Villanueva (@LACoSheriff) June 7, 2021
The Ocean Front Walk falls under LAPD jurisdiction, but Villanueva said he's sending his Homeless Outreach Service Team there. On Tuesday, deputies arrived, as documented by reporters and advocates for unhoused people.
At a press conference on a different matter, the sheriff said it’s “anarchy” when it comes to Venice Beach “because law enforcement has not been allowed to do their job and regulate public space."
“We are going to do the job that people don't want to do,” he said. “And it doesn't mean we're going to be arresting people. We're going to follow the L.A. Homeless Service Authority, the five step protocol. We're going to get housing for people, but we're also going to stop the influx of people who are just taking advantage of free stuff.”
The sheriff blamed the homelessness crisis on inaction by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors and the L.A. City Council.
Councilman Mike Bonin accused Villanueva of exploiting the homelessness crisis for personal political gain and called the sheriff a roadblock to progress.
"In Venice, we're working to marshall resources to offer housing and services to hundreds of people living on the streets," Bonin said on Twitter. "Villanueva hasn't offered actual help."
The sheriff says he's coming to Venice.— Mike Bonin (@mikebonin) June 8, 2021
He didn’t call to offer services or housing, which would help. He went on a PR blitz, promising his own notorious brand of justice.
To anyone familiar with Villanueva and LASD, that's incredibly ominous.
Ryan Fonseca contributed to this report.