Wall street

Photo courtesy Wall Street Journal 

On March 4,  The Wall Street Journal reported that Venice Beach, which saw unprecedented home values soar for nearly a decade is now experiencing a “chilling effect” on those prices due to the unbridled invasion of transients now living on the streets of Venice unabated and free of any guidelines that has this small seaside community hostage to a homeless population now in the thousands!

While Venice always experienced, welcomed and accepted homelessness and the diversity and eclectic place it is internationally known by visitors and locals alike, this new Venice is now dirty, dangerous and out of control with no direction or leadership from our city fathers, in particular – Councilman Mike Bonin (CD-11) who has been charged with representing this urban beach enclave close to a decade.

Bonin, a former community newspaper reporter and Harvard graduate has served in various governmental capacities as an aide to a former member of Congress and chief of staff to his predecessor, the late Bill Rosendahl.

He knows government quite well. 

But as the pandemic has worsened, neighboring communities like Pacific Palisades have been protected from the surge of homelessness as Venice has become a “containment zone” of sorts for the un-housed here in District 11 with the blanket approval of Mr. Bonin.

With Venice home values slipping and inventory apparently surging, the real estate renaissance of Venice has been hindered and hampered by the Machiavellian homeless policies of Councilman Mike.

With pandemic conditions ironically increasing home values and real estate activity virtually everywhere, the issues of homelessness and crime in Venice have trumped market conditions and probabilities.

For the issue of safety is now a real concern for buying a home or simply living at the beach here in Venice.

The 57% spike in new homeless in Venice now makes it the most densely populated neighborhood outside of Skid Row downtown for the homeless to populate.

Hundreds of encampments rage the boardwalk and beach and some believe the real number of homeless in this three-square mile is approaching more like 3,000 than the 1,900 reported in 2019!

Since there was no homeless count in 2021 due to COVID-19, it’s really anyone’s guess just how many homeless are here, and that most of them are out-of-state transients, drifters and drug addicted individuals who see living at the beach a far more appealing environment of the harsh weather in the Midwest that saw snowfall at record numbers! 

Because Councilman Bonin supports suspending any enforcement of individuals living on the streets in tents and structured encampments and vehicles, the homeless population grows and he sees no issue with it.

In fact, he is quoted in the WSJ piece saying, “I want to build more homeless shelters in Venice.”

Incredibly, he sees no correlation between rising crime rates and the proliferation of homeless he endorses to remain in Venice creating this perfect storm of a new and permanent, urban slum at the beach!

Bonin freely acknowledges the decrease in real estate values, but seems to think that’s just the way it is and anyone concerned about losing value in their home or business a “NIMBY” (Not in my back yard) point of view. 

But this political transformation of Mr. Bonin is littered in previous statements and policy positions completely out-of-step with his former thoughts of what Venice has become and needs to be.

In a government sponsored mailing entitled Venice Beach Solutions: An Action Plan for a Safe, Clean and Vibrant Venice Beach, here are just a sample of the beliefs of the “old” Mike Bonin: 

  • ·       Bonin described Venice as “a residential neighborhood and commercial district that faces real and serious problems.”
  • ·       That “Our neighborhoods are experiencing a sharp proliferation in the number of people living on our streets.” And some “are criminal transients who threaten our community and make our homes and neighborhoods feel unsafe.”
  • ·       Bonin himself stated, “Venice has two big problems – homelessness and crime.”
  • ·       And it is “foolish to think the two issues do not at times intersect.”
  • ·       And Bonin also said, “there is a population of service-resistant transients, with no ties to Venice, who are committing crimes in our neighborhoods and terrorizing both residents and homeless people in need.”

For Mike Bonin’s original political intent of clean neighborhoods, working to end, not enable homelessness and actually work with law enforcement and specifically the LAPD by increasing the number of officers on the streets of Venice has all but been abandoned and instead a new political utopian rhetoric that talks about “reimagining” law enforcement and defunding cops the new normal within in a pandemic riddled in this population explosion of transients on the streets and on the beach openly dealing drugs, harassing local and tourists alike under the additional moniker of being our new neighbors!

Mike Bonin claims he won’t be “beholden” to the ideologues on either side as he lurches even further to the left with policies so unworkable and ineffective, that his reimagining of Venice Beach is a literal nightmare for both Venetians housed or lingering on the streets with no hope or results. 

For the “Bonin Blunder” at the beach has got to end now.

The author is a member of the Parking & Transportation, Outreach and Oceanfront Walk Committee of the Venice Neighborhood Council and 29-year resident of Venice. He can be reached at nantoni@mindspring.com.