Business Culver City Edition East Edition Herald American Local News Lynwood Press Northeast Edition The Press West Edition

Judge allows bridge housing facility in Venice

LOS ANGELES — A judge May 10 denied a preliminary injunction that would have held up construction on a temporary bridge housing facility for the homeless in Venice that is strongly opposed by some community leaders.

The Venice location is a vacant bus yard owned by the county Metropolitan Transportation Authority at 100 E. Sunset Ave., and has been proposed by Councilman Mike Bonin as a location for Mayor Eric Garcetti’s A Bridge Home program to install temporary shelters in each of the city’s 15 council districts.

The City Council voted last December to move forward on developing the shelter, but a lawsuit by the Venice Stakeholders Association has been holding up the process, and the group had also sought the preliminary injunction.

The judge’s ruling clears the way for construction on the shelter to begin, although a trial is scheduled for October on the association’s overall arguments against the shelter.

“I am enormously grateful that the Superior Court rejected the effort to halt progress on bridge housing in Venice,” Bonin said. “No one deserves to live on a sidewalk, and no one deserves to have encampments in their neighborhood.

“Homelessness is a severe and urgent crisis, and bridge housing in Venice is a big and important part of a multi-faceted strategy that most Venetians support and demand,” Bonin added.

The Venice Stakeholders Association has argued that the city is moving too fast in building the shelter and made a number of legal arguments in the preliminary injunction request, including that a Coastal Commission waiver on the project was issued without proper notice.

“I would note that this project has not been approved by the Venice Neighborhood Council, and in fact that body has asked for the city to do a feasibility study of other sites that the neighborhood council thought were better,” said Mark Ryavec, president of the Venice Stakeholders Association, during the December meeting before the City Council approved the shelter.

Ryavec unsuccessfully challenged Bonin for his seat in 2017.

Judge Mitchell Beckloff rejected the association’s preliminary injunction request on a number of legal grounds, including that the harm to the organization would be less than the harm to the city, which he said “has clearly demonstrated the emergency nature of the project to its citizens” while the association’s “concern is based on speculation and conjecture.”

The “Bridge Home” program was first announced by Garcetti during his State of the City speech in April 2018 as a new front in the fight against homelessness. The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority’s 2018 homeless count found that more than 31,000 people are homeless in the city, including more than 23,000 living without shelter, which were both slight drops from the previous year after years of increases.

The bridge shelters are intended as a temporary solution to the problem while the city builds thousands of permanent supportive units approved in 2016 by city voters through Proposition HHH, a $1.2 billion bond measure.

The temporary shelters will help transition homeless people off the street and into permanent housing, along with providing them access to supportive services, including addiction counseling, Garcetti and other leaders have said.

From City News Service