Venice : Homeless on Beach Warned

Police this week began posting signs and distributing flyers warning about 150 homeless people camped on Venice Beach that they face arrest if they do not move by Sunday.

A new law sponsored by City Councilwoman Ruth Galanter goes into effect Sunday banning overnight sleeping on the beach.

A rally to protest the law is planned for Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Venice Pavilion. The demonstration, which will include music and speeches, will also celebrate the Rev. Martin Luther King's birthday.

The homeless "are now being told there is no place in the public space for them. They are being told they have to be invisible, while they are not being provided for," said Jennifer Pirie, co-chairwoman of Venice Neighbor to Neighbor, which is sponsoring the rally.

Los Angeles Police Capt. John Wilbanks, who oversees the Venice area, said the flyers being distributed list social service agencies that offer help for the homeless.

Wilbanks said no police action is likely before Tuesday because Monday is the King holiday.

City and county agencies have set up operations in a trailer near the Venice Pavilion to supply job referrals and counseling for the homeless. Advocates for the homeless, however, say the services are inadequate.

Residents opposed to the homeless in Venice, meanwhile, say they are eager for the ordinance to be strictly enforced.

"It's gotten ugly down there (on the beach)," said Jeffrey Miles, a spokesman for the Venice-Santa Monica Neighborhood Assn. "There are people down there hiding behind the word homeless because living in society would mean going to jail."

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