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Opinion

Opinion: Homeless advocates and residents are fighting over a Venice that no longer exists

Homelessness in Venice
Chris Buck, center, who has been homeless for the past year, wheels his portable, small home along the boardwalk in Venice Beach.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: The “soul” of Venice is not homeless people sleeping on a sidewalk. It’s the creative spirit of people being able to be creative. If you’re struggling to physically survive, there’s no room for such “spirit.” (“Fears mount over a homeless plan that residents say will ‘end Venice as we know it,’” Oct. 18)

Outsiders have always mistaken the carnival aspect of the boardwalk for the spirit of Venice. The real creative aspect of this area was made up of those living and working here in their studios or workshops. Venice once had the feel and the affordability that allowed people to express their creativity. It was a national and international melting pot where every eccentricity or expression was instantly accepted. 

This was the spirit of Venice.

That has been replaced with software programmers working on a computer 10 hours a day, the trendiest fashion street in the U.S. and the highest number to date of homeless fighting for a joint and a meal. I don’t see how you can even mention the word “spirit.” 

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Michele Castagnetti, Venice

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To the editor: Venice residents opposed to locating services for homeless people in their neighborhood — as Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin proposes for the area — do not want to see these individuals in their alleys, doorways and parks. But these same residents would rather not have these people housed in their area either. 

Sounds like an insupportable position to me. People, you don’t get to have it both ways. 

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People who say they don’t want formerly homeless people (as they would be once they have housing) in their neighborhood because they are afraid for the safety of their children are apparently ignorant of the fact that about 90% of children who are abused are harmed by their parents or someone they know, not by some random stranger down the street. 

My suggestion is that people grow up and face the reality that all of us are in this together.

Marsha Temple, Los Angeles

The writer is executive director of the nonprofit Integrated Recovery Network.

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To the editor: As a 34-year working-class, sober resident of Venice, I have witnessed the homeless — or roofless, as they like to call themselves nowadays — transform this community from the creative oasis it was to today’s downright creepy environment. Many of these homeless, many of whom originate from different cities and states, are young, drug- and alcohol-addicted and like the freedom to party at the beach.

Those who insist, as Bonin does, on expanding homeless services in Venice must also embrace its future not as a tax-producing tourist attraction, but as a community about to clothe itself with cardboard and duct tape.

Michael Ryan, Venice

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To the editor: It pains me to say it, but some of my Venice neighbors sound to me like Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump when they talk about the homeless. “Build a wall” translates into “make them go somewhere else.” “Immigrants are rapists and murderers” becomes “putting me and my children in jeopardy.” 

Let’s get real: Homeless people need a community too. Denying them the opportunity for affordable housing seems like a good way to ensure that they continue living on the street. 

Bravo to Bonin for taking on this charged issue and talking some sense about it.

Chris Tilly, Venice

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