A group of Venice residents filed an opening brief last Friday in a lawsuit to stop the construction of a temporary facility that would house 154 people experiencing homelessness.

The Venice Stakeholders Association’s lawsuit asks Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff to declare the city’s of Los Angeles approval of the project invalid and halt construction on the site. Beckloff denied a similar request in May, saying the facility is necessary to provide adequate shelter for Venice’s homeless residents. More than 1,100 people experiencing homelessness live in the neighborhood, according to the 2019 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, a 33% increase over last year.

Bridge Home Venice is under construction at a Metro-owned former bus yard at the corner of Main Street and Pacific Avenue, near some of Venice’s largest homeless encampments. People Assisting the Homeless (PATH) and the Venice-based Safe Place for Youth will manage and operate the facility, which will open later this summer. It is intended to be open for three years.

Like other facilities in the city’s Bridge Home program, the shelter is meant to replace the nearby encampments with temporary housing and case management services. It will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and provide meals, restrooms, showers, storage and room for pets. The services offered on-site will help individuals find permanent housing.

The city has opened four bridge housing facilities and approved 12 others, many of which are facing similar opposition from neighborhood organizations.

“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,” said Councilmember Mike Bonin, who represents neighborhoods on the Westside, in a May press release. “No one deserves to live on a sidewalk, and no one deserves to have encampments in their neighborhood. Bridge housing is a needed alternative to encampments.”

The Venice Stakeholders Association contends that the facility will attract crime and generate noise in the beachfront residential neighborhood that surrounds the site.

“These facilities, as we have seen around the St. Joseph Center and its services center, attract new encampments, which become a heavy burden for neighbors,” said president Mark Ryavec, who has challenged other homeless facilities and policies in Venice.

The association’s lawsuit, which was filed in January, asserts that the city did not fully evaluate the impacts of the project on the neighborhood, such as limited parking availability and increased noise, under the California Environmental Quality Act.

It asks the court to declare the approval of the project to be in violation and CEQA and prevent the city, Metro and Coastal Commission from constructing the facility until it presents another environmental impact report that fully captures the impact of the project on the neighborhood.

The association is now waiting for the city, Metro and the Coastal Commission to reply to the opening brief, Ryavec said. The lawsuit will go to trial Oct. 11.

madeleine@smdp.com

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  1. You don’t want them on the street, and you don’t want them in a transitional facility. What do you want? That was rhetorical. You want them to go to someone elses neighborhood.

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