Device resembling explosive found outside site of future homeless shelter in Venice

Map showing Venice location where fake explosive was found
(Los Angeles Times)

Devices that authorities say were made to look like explosives were discovered Thursday night in Venice at the site of a future homeless shelter that has been a long-standing point of contention.

Los Angeles police responded to the site at Sunset Avenue and Main Street just before 6 p.m. The discovery prompted evacuation of nearby homes and streets for nearly five hours as the Los Angeles Police Department’s bomb squad inspected the item.

According to L.A. City Councilman Mike Bonin, who represents the area, three devices that were designed to look like explosives were found. A law enforcement official also said that three devices were recovered, but none of them had the capability to detonate.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that the shelter site was not the target of the incident but would not elaborate further.

Plans to open a homeless shelter at the site were approved in December after an L.A. County Superior Court judge rejected a legal challenge to the project from residents who believed the site was too close to homes and schools. The Venice Stakeholders Assn. had sued, arguing that the shelter would be a “magnet” for homeless encampments and would diminish public safety.

Bonin said that if the discovery of the fake explosives was meant to slow progress on the housing project, “it failed.”

“This is an appalling incident perpetrated by a disturbed and cowardly person or persons,” he said. “It is unacceptable and inhumane for people to be living and dying in sidewalk encampments in our neighborhoods. It is imperative that we get people off the streets. We will not be intimidated, and we will not back down from providing solutions to our homelessness crisis.”


LAPD said an investigation into who may have planted the false devices was ongoing.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at (877) 527-3247.

Times staff writers James Queally and Emily Alpert Reyes contributed to this report.