Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva called out several political rivals during a press conference on Wednesday and urged elected officials to declare the homeless crisis in the region a local state of emergency.
Villanueva defended his plan to clear encampments lining the famous Venice Beach boardwalk by July 4, and described the situation there as “a microcosm of what’s going on throughout the entire county of Los Angeles.” However, several activist groups and progressive politicians have condemned his strategy, which Villanueva says is based on the concept of “regulating public space.”
The sheriff said local politicians have “handcuffed” the Los Angeles Police Department from enforcing the law, adding that their lax policies are luring more homeless people from out-of-state, making L.A. “the recipient of a national problem.”
Villanueva staged a multimedia presentation that included images of homeless encampments, news clips of fires and violent confrontations in the Venice neighborhood, and various graphs that he says prove “the failed formula applied year after year” is not working.
He identified L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, the L.A. City Council, and the powerful L.A. County Board of Supervisors as “the architects of failure,” claiming they don’t want law enforcement involved with solving homeless issues. Villanueva said their inaction and refusal to adjust their policies as the homeless count increased over the years has forced the Sheriff’s Department to step in.
“This is a crisis; we need to take it seriously,” said Villanueva. “These are existential threats to the lives and livelihoods of L.A. County residents, and all I get from our architects is indifference because it’s not part of their agenda. It’s not part of their woke rationale that we need to leave law enforcement out of the homeless problem.”
Villanueva went on to accuse city and county governments of wasting taxpayer money through their associations with some nonprofit organizations and called for more transparency.
“I guarantee you the more money that gets thrown at the homelessness, the more of these mystery fly-by-night operations are going to start appearing,” he said. “We have no idea who they are, what they are, or where the money goes.”
Yesterday I asked the @LACountyBOS to declare a state of emergency regarding the homeless crisis.
Please read: https://t.co/ThyOf1uwxl
— Alex Villanueva (@LACoSheriff) June 24, 2021
On Thursday, Sheriff Villanueva released a letter he sent to the Board of Supervisors requesting that they declare a local state of emergency, which would allow the county to apply for funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
“Residents and business owners should not be subjected to walking around piles of trash and human feces in their neighborhoods, businesses, parks, and communities,” the letter reads. “Failed policies, self-interest groups, and political agendas are enabling a national crisis to fester within our communities.”
Villanueva said he was drafting another letter to Mayor Garcetti “telling him to unhandcuff the LAPD” and allow law enforcement officers to do their jobs.
“There is a time where you just have to call people out and cut through the BS,” Villanueva said. “This is that moment in history for the entire region to say, ‘Enough is enough, let’s get the job done.’”