Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva on Wednesday urged homeless people who migrated to Venice Beach from outside of California “to pack up your bags and head back to the state you came from.”
The remarks come after Villanueva deployed the Sheriff’s Homeless Outreach Services Team to the boardwalk earlier this week to evaluate the situation and implement an incremental plan to clear transients from the area. During an Instagram Live broadcast, Villanueva described the department’s efforts as a “humanitarian mission” and said he is forced to take action because “lives are at stake.” He condemned the progressive Democrats elected to represent Venice “who fail to do their job” and allow homeless encampments to take over the neighborhood. In addition, Villanueva accused city leaders of preventing the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), which patrols Venice, from enforcing the rule of law and regulating public space.
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Villanueva said the Sheriff’s Department developed a five-step process that will take a minimum of two weeks to complete, depending on the situation’s complexity. The Los Angeles Times reported, “For a few weeks at least, sheriff’s deputies will not be making arrests or taking other enforcement measures on the boardwalk.” Instead, deputies will be working with mental health clinicians “assessing the needs of people living in sprawling encampments along the beachfront promenade and helping to get them services,” according to the Times.
“As we move people out, we’re going to hold ground. We’re not going to let anybody move back in,” said Villanueva during an Instagram Live broadcast on Wednesday. “And then we’re going to shift that responsibility to the local law enforcement.”
Robert agreed to accept services provided by our veteran services. Today is the beginning of a new life, hope and path for Robert and other homeless individuals on the Venice Beach boardwalk.
— Alex Villanueva (@LACoSheriff) June 9, 2021
He said the strategy has been successful in other parts of the county where elected officials welcomed the Sheriff’s Department’s assistance. However, Villanueva emphasized that was not the case in L.A.’s Venice neighborhood.
“We’re coming across a large number of people out-of-state that are descending on the Strand just to enjoy the free services and the weather, and basically, really screw up the community for the Venice residents and the tourism industry,” said Villanueva.
He went on to claim some homeless people are lured to L.A. County “because they think everyone here is a fool and they’re giving away free condos.”
“We’re coming for you,” Villanueva said, talking to the camera. “You do not belong here in L.A. County. All you’re doing is harming the economy of L.A., you’re harming the communities, and you’re harming the people that can least afford to have an extra burden on them, which is more homeless competing for a limited amount of resources.”
“So you need to pack up your bags and head back to the state you came from,” he continued. “If you’re homeless from another state, well, you need to go back to that state and your social circle, your support group, your family, friends, where you grew up, that’s the place you need to go back to.”
Homeless people have been allowed to keep their tents up at all times in the city of L.A. since last March when council members voted to suspend part of a law guiding encampment sweeps, citing the coronavirus pandemic.
L.A. City Councilman Joe Buscaino says he wants to resume enforcing city rules requiring tents to come down during daytime hours, reversing a decision last March. After some discussion, the city attorney says that needs to be taken up at another time — it's not on the agenda.
— Emily Alpert Reyes (@AlpertReyes) June 9, 2021
Villanueva said earlier this week that he would like the homeless encampments along the boardwalk cleared by July 4.
“L.A. cannot be the receiving body for the entire nation’s homeless; we’re going to be overrun,” said Villanueva. “It’s going to destroy our community. There are so many other places impacted, and we’re going to be addressing them one by one.”