A Venice Beach community organization has warned Los Angeles officials that they're liable for multimillion-dollar lawsuit payouts after allowing homeless encampments in the area.
The Venice Stakeholders Association said LA could face a number of expensive lawsuits if they continue not enforcing overnight camping prohibitions, and fail to protect the safety of nearby residents.
"There's almost no police presence or fire department presence down here overnight," association President Mark Ryavec told KABC. "We're putting the city on notice, that, if there's loss of life, if there's a structure, they are clearly already negligent, and they already will face a huge settlement."
Ryavec added that a significant homeless population remains living along the boardwalk and starting fires that threaten nearby buildings and homes.
Surveillance cameras last month captured a man starting fires in trashcans along the boardwalk. One man was arrested for lighting 15 garbage bins on fire, but another man remains on the loose.
The next day, two men destroyed a park bench after setting a cardboard box on fire.
"It's illegal to camp on Venice Beach," Ryavec told KABC. "And we want that message established by enforcement of the rules that exist."
Ryavec did say the homelessness problem in Venice, which is about 15 miles from downtown L.A., has improved during the day. Not so at night.
He told KABC that at least 70 people still are camping on the beach at night.
LA police and sanitation crews move out the campers every Thursday, KABC said. Ryavec said the city needs to do this at least three times a week to achieve the desired results.
An attorney for the association sent a letter to several LA city offices last week to again point out the dangers of the situation, and warning that continuing to ignore the overnight homeless camping problem could lead to expensive legal payouts.
Ryavec told KABC that a January 2021 fire, which started in a homeless tent, quickly spread to a two-story building. More than a hundred firefighters were needed to extinguish the fire, but not before the building was destroyed. The owner is suing Los Angeles.
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