A group of Venice residents and businesses is demanding that city officials do something about homeless people sleeping along the Venice Boardwalk and leaving their personal items scattered around the Venice Beach Recreation Area.
A letter sent by the nonprofit Venice Stakeholders Association accuses the city of policing the recently re-opened City Hall Park and the green space at the Police Administration Building downtown better than the city enforces laws against camping on Venice Beach.
The letter was addressed to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who represents the boardwalk, along with the president of the Recreation and Parks Commission and the general manager of the Department of Recreation and Parks.
City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck and Capt. Jon Peters, who oversees policing of the area, were also sent copies of the letter.
VSA President Mark Ryavec said he hoped to meet with police officials and the city attorney, but the group would file a lawsuit if the situation is not resolved.
"The bottom line is, yes, if we don't get some equal enforcement out here, we will file a lawsuit," Ryavec said. "It doesn't seem fair that a city campus downtown with no residents gets absolute first-class treatment, and yet a couple thousand residents and business owners who are really impacted by homelessness don't get the same kind of treatment."
A spokesman for Villaraigosa said the mayor had not yet received the letter. Rosendahl, who is on leave for treatment of a newly diagnosed cancer, ordered the letter forwarded to the City Attorney's Office for review, according to Rosendahl's chief of staff, Mike Bonin.
In the letter, attorney John Henning Jr. wrote that the alleged unequal treatment has turned the Venice Beach Recreation Area into an area akin to Skid Row.
The city re-opened the City Hall Park last month, after enacting a new ban on tents and tighter restrictions on the use of sleeping bags.
The VSA claims rules are broken nearly every day on the Venice Boardwalk and surrounding park.
"In fact, the city's failure to enforce existing laws within the (Venice Beach Recreation Area) has encouraged the establishment of an extreme public nuisance which has fostered crime and assaults, subjected residents and visitors to constant danger, and driven tourists to flee for other, safer beach venues," Henning wrote.
Peters was not immediately available to comment on crime along the boardwalk.