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Opinion

Readers React: Venice’s loud anti-shelter voices don’t speak for the community on homelessness

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Venice residents protest a proposed bridge shelter on the site of an abandoned bus yard during a community meeting with L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, LAPD Chief Michel Moore and City Councilman Mike Bonin on Oct. 17, 2018.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: None of the many elements of a solution to homelessness are 100% perfect. The old Metro bus lot in Venice is an excellent location for a temporary shelter for homeless people. (“Venice homeless shelter faces a legal challenge claiming insufficient review,” Jan. 14)

If fears of “the other” or the ugly specter of extreme poverty render us unable to summon the compassion, empathy and flexibility needed to solve this crisis, it will continue and grow worse.

I have wondered what a truly comprehensive poll of local residents would tell us about homeless services. Are the vocal and tenacious Venetians really representative of the overall population? The 71% of voters who reelected Mike Bonin, our local city councilman, in 2017 is our only metric.

The loudest person in the room is not necessarily representative on some of these issues.

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Robin Doyno, Mar Vista

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To the editor: There are a half of dozen other more suitable city-owned sites in Bonin’s Council District 11, such as the one I presented to the City Council’s Homelessness and Poverty Committee on Dec. 5, 2018.

The Westchester site I proposed can be up and running sooner and for less money, and it does not require Coastal Commission approval. It can also be easily developed as a permanent supportive-housing site. It is also within walking distance of pharmacies, convenience stores, employers and more affordable apartments than what’s in Venice.

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The lawsuit seeking to halt the Venice project is correct that shelters and service providers are indeed magnets for even more homeless encampments. My family lives near the St. Joseph Center in Venice, and we are besieged by the arrival of homeless encampments and the consequent trash, late-night noise and thefts.

A dense residential neighborhood one block from the beach is not an appropriate place for a large shelter.

Sam Awad, Venice

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To the editor: Well, here I am again, writing in favor of the homeless shelter to be built in the abandoned Venice bus yard.

For decades buses went in and out of that yard, with the smell of diesel exhaust and noise being two major problems. But now, there are protests against homeless human beings who already live at the beach moving into proper housing.

If there are objections to the design, then change it. But do not change the location of the housing.

Jacquie Nemor, Santa Monica

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To the editor: The site in Venice could probably support 30 condos or more that sell for upward of $3 million each, the tax base of which would provide homeless housing for eternity if built in a more sane location.

Jon Johannessen, Venice

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