Mike sent the following message to neighbors on August 10, 2021.
With encampments proliferating and people literally dying on our streets, a few months ago, I asked city staff to conduct a feasibility study of 10 different locations on the Westside for a range of different types of emergency shelter or housing. It generated a lot of heated discussion and debate in a lot of neighborhoods.
The feasibility study is done. In short, our City Administrative Office, which did the analysis, is essentially recommending no to most of the locations, is continuing to explore a handful of locations, and is urging the City instead to fund two solutions I have been championing for a while: the purchase of local motels for homeless housing; and the expansion of the Encampments to Homes program, which just housed 211 people from Venice Beach.
Here’s the rundown:
The CAO deemed infeasible (essentially recommending the City should not pursue) tiny homes (also known as “cabin communities”) or safe camping (also known as “safe sleeping”) at Will Rogers State Beach in Pacific Palisades, at Dockweiler State Beach in Playa del Rey, or at a privately owned lot at 5000 Beethoven Avenue in Del Rey. The CAO is also recommending against using part of the West LA Municipal Building for interim shelter.
The CAO recommends continuing to assess the idea of tiny homes or safe camping at the Marina Del Rey boat launch ramp, Parking Lot #2, 13477 Fiji Way, and recommends continuing to assess a potential partnership with Culver City for a joint homelessness intervention on a vacant lot owned by Culver City, at 9415-9425 Venice Blvd. in Los Angeles.
The CAO recommends the City continue to assess the possibility of tiny homes or safe camping or safe parking on LAX-owned properties, which would require FAA approval, and the possibility of Safe Parking at some of the spots in the RV Park at 12001 Vista Del Mar, Playa Del Rey.
The CAO deemed infeasible (essentially recommending the City should not pursue) tiny homes or safe camping at Westchester Park or Mar Vista Park, but instead should pursue funding and resources for Encampments to Homes programs at those locations, in order to help house people living there.
The CAO noted the heavy challenge of finding appropriate locations for emergency homeless interventions on the Westside, and instead urged the City to use state or federal Project Homekey funding, which could purchase motels and master lease vacant apartment units to provide housing that is both immediate and long-term. That is an approach I have long championed.
I had asked the City to examine a variety of locations because we are facing an urgent and growing crisis, and unhoused residents, housed residents, neighborhood councils and federal judges had asked me to explore tiny homes and sanctioned camping with services, security, and sanitation. I refuse to accept the status quo of encampments everywhere and people dying on our streets, and I will leave no stone unturned in searching for alternatives. I appreciate those who share that sentiment, and supported conducting a feasibility study.
One of my big takeaways of this report is that it underscores the drawbacks of emergency shelters and bolsters the argument that we need actual housing, with appropriate services.
As the report illustrates, providing long-term housing (which can be rental subsidies, vouchers, master leasing or shared housing) is often faster and more fiscally prudent than many emergency interventions like shelters.
So what’s next? I want to build on the success of the Venice Beach Encampments to Homes program, and bring it to other places in the district, including Westchester Park and Mar Vista Park. That will take passage of the Housing Program, a proposal from me and my colleagues Mark Ridley-Thomas and Curren Price to house 10,000 people quickly through vouchers, rental subsidies and master leasing. It will also require the purchase or leasing of several motels or apartments on the Westside.
I will also ask that the City continue to explore the four sites that the CAO is assessing (the parking lot on Fiji Way, the vacant lot owned by Culver City, LAX, and the RV Campground on Vista Del Mar) and ask that any proposals undergo a public process to gain community feedback prior to consideration of approval. I won’t be asking the City to pursue the sites the CAO indicates are infeasible.
Homelessness is a crisis facing all of us, and I strongly believe that all parts of the City – including the Westside – need to be a part of the solution. I will continue to fight for real solutions to homelessness – and that means finding places for housing and services. If you have suggestions or proposals, I welcome them. We are all working on this together, and the more hands on deck, the better.
Councilmember, 11th District