The reason progressive extremism persists in America today is because progressives are either making money by embracing progressive policies, or because progressives are not living on the front lines of progressive insanity.
It is hard to imagine a place that would have an electorate any more progressive than Venice Beach. Located on the shores of West Los Angeles in California’s 33rd Congressional District, Venice Beach is represented by Democrat Ted Lieu, who was reelected in 2018 with 70 percent of the vote. But a revolution is brewing in Venice Beach, because Venice Beach is on the front lines of progressive insanity.
Thanks to progressive ideology as expressed in laws and court rulings, in California today you cannot arrest and hold vagrants for petty theft or possession of hard drugs; you cannot move them out of public spaces unless you can provide them with free and “permanent supportive housing;” you cannot commit demonstrably insane people to asylums; and publicly funded shelters must offer food and urgent care without any preconditions whatsoever.
The Streets of Venice Beach Are An Open Sewer
Testimonials from residents of Venice Beach provide ample evidence of what happens when you impose these progressive policies on an urban area bordered on the west by some of the most inviting beaches and agreeable weather in the world. An estimated 1,200 homeless people have set up permanent encampments in this three square mile beach town. They almost never use actual toilets.
According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, the average human produces one pound of feces per day. Simple math therefore tells us that every week, the homeless population deposits more than four tons of feces onto the gutters and sidewalks and driveways and lawns of Venice Beach residents, where they are dutifully hosed into the sewers and eventually make their way into the ocean.
The reality of being on the front lines of progressive insanity requires more than hard numbers. The homeless don’t go to the bathroom in their tents, or anywhere near their tents. They walk into the neighborhoods to relieve themselves. Consider this eyewitness account from a Venice Beach resident:
People have to hose this [crap] down where it runs down the street to the sewer on Main Street. Westminster Elementary school serves the children of local residents. Kids pick stuff up, dogs walk in the stuff. This is all tracked into homes and classrooms. They leave bottles of urine in their water bottles [figure around 16 tons per week] and leave the bottles. The only way these bottles don’t accumulate forever is because property owners have to pick them up.
Insoluble Homeless Problem Benefits Politicians
If anything stinks more than the crap that is deposited each day in Venice by the homeless, it’s the corruption that prevents action. All the laws and court rulings that prevent decisive action could be bypassed if Governor Newsom would declare a state of emergency. But why on Earth would California’s progressive, woke governor do any such thing, when the progressive elite in Los Angeles are exploiting these laws and court rulings to make billions of dollars, while the problem only gets worse?
Here is an excerpt from an email sent to Mike Bonin, the Los Angeles City Councilmember whose district includes Venice Beach:
Councilmember Bonin: I just received my property tax bill. It sort of feels like a sick joke. Can you please let me know how I can deduct for services not rendered? I’m not paying for your bloated administrative costs anymore. Our streets are lawless, they are covered in feces and our crime rate is spiraling. How can you force us to live in such horrible conditions? Don’t you see that the City of Los Angeles is actually the #1 slumlord in the nation?
Or this one, also sent to Councilmember Bonin, along with many of his colleagues on the Los Angeles City Council:
Councilman and City Officials: I cannot emphasize enough how dangerous this is becoming for all constituents – the homeless and the housed both. Increasingly, we are witnessing acts of violence and being subjected to very disturbing spreading of dangerous bodily fluids and needles on the streets of Venice. Sadly, this is why many of us have actively embraced the federal government to intervene in our city in order to begin some sense of sanity and rights to our neighborhoods. I join my fellow Venetians in calling upon you to step up and take immediate steps to stop these wild, wild west actions that are now taking place on a daily basis, and restore safety for all in Venice Beach.
Or this lengthy, vivid appeal:
I was almost attacked by three dogs off leash fighting with another dog early this evening. Told another neighbor to walk his dog the other way. He appreciated the advice. This is ridiculous. To our ‘respected’ (NOT) council and city people: You pad your pockets, and don’t think we don’t know it. We are not blind and dumb. We get poorer so you can pocket money and yet our living conditions have gone to hell in a handbasket. And you drove the bus.
Make amends. LISTEN to us. We are not just rich NIMBYs. We are hard working in all variety and type of work, peoples who come together to help each other. Some people are wealthy, some fighting for their very last dollar to maintain at least an apartment.
Start doing something about the actual problem rather than seeing what developers with whom you can seek prosperous deals can do for your OWN BANK ACCOUNTS. DO SOMETHING! And DO it NOW!!!!!
You may not like what I say, but I stand firmly that I am correct in my assessments that you mismanage money and somehow it comes back to your own bank accounts. Once again don’t think we are stupid. You can say what you want, but we know the truth and you cannot dodge it every chance you get.
We will find ultimately what you did. Much like a felon, just admit now to what you did and get it over with before you end up with the wrath of the power of the people you purport to represent.
Residents Are Recognizing That Political Corruption Prevents Solutions
These excerpts from emails sent to the local elected officials who run the City of Los Angeles represent a minute fraction of the avalanche of emails, letters, phone calls and public statements pouring forth from an enraged electorate.
The corruption is obvious. You don’t spend over a half-million dollars per unit to provide “permanent supportive housing” to homeless people, taking years to build them, all the while leaving the vast majority of the homeless on the street. In Venice Beach these “progressive” public officials are considering a 140 unit apartment for the homeless that will cost an estimated $205 million – nearly $1.5 million per homeless person.
This is insanity. This is blatant corruption that deserves criminal prosecution. Yet thanks to laws and court rulings pushed by progressive ideology, it’s all perfectly legal.
And the “woke” progressives on the front lines of this war are indeed waking up. This comes from a Venice resident whose ideology has shifted in recent months:
Two years ago, I would’ve voted for anyone but Trump. After watching Bonin and Garcetti attract drug addicts and criminals to LA and Venice, I’ll never vote for a Democrat again. Bonin and Garcetti lie about the drug and crime epidemic calling it a “housing crisis” so they can pay their donors with HHH money. Don’t believe me? Look at who is donating to their non-profits. Housing developers and service providers.
Women, elderly and even men are afraid to walk the streets at night. Two of my friends were attacked by homeless criminals in the last month alone. The new encampment on Hampton, (who say they are waiting for the MTA bridge home to open), are doing drugs and chopping up stolen bikes in broad daylight. A group of us are working with the White House. They are close to an intervention to protect us. Instead of asking the Fed for Federal land to build housing out there, Garcetti is asking for money to give to his donors. We are going to escalate this to the national level until the Federal government comes in to protect us.
Venice Beach is Becoming Unlivable for Residents
And meanwhile, the war goes on. The residents are losing this war. They are losing their homes. They are losing their community.
Across the streets of Venice Beach, there is glass everywhere because of discarded and shattered liquor bottles. There is homeless on homeless violence, and to protect themselves and their property, many of the homeless have dogs.
One resident, who, like most, does not want to be identified, had this to say about the dogs:
Last week, a woman was bit by a homeless person’s pit bull. About an hour later the police showed up at the van where the dog lives with his owner, but the owner fled. Nothing was done. If you walk by a tent or a van, the dogs will lunge at you, because they are protecting their property and their owner – never mind if the ‘property’ is a public sidewalk. ‘Off-leash’ pit bulls and other large dogs are everywhere. The animals are being used as weapons. Residents are intimidated and have to avoid the entire area. It isn’t worth the risk of getting bit. The dog could cause a serious injury, they could have rabies. If you have your own dog, there are very few safe places to take the dog for a walk because the dogs of the homeless will attack your dog and possibly kill it.
The stories coming from the shell shocked residents of Venice Beach are endless. Back in July, a mentally ill man stole neighborhood trash bins to construct a personal fortress. The police removed the man but left the bins, which cannot be identified and reclaimed. Three months later, still there, the pile of bins have become a magnet for trash. A broken television, a couch, and the ubiquitous needles. Throughout Venice Beach, an entire new urban ecosystem has been created by the trash. Rats and mice and skunks eat the trash; they in turn become victims of hawks.
When it comes to open drug use in Venice, there is a perverse twist to the story. As told by a resident:
There are more discarded needles up in San Francisco, because the drug of choice in Venice seems to be meth. On the other hand, this is worse, because meth users become violent and agitated. I would prefer to encounter a heroin user because you can run from them.
Just the fact that residents have had to learn how to size the homeless up and figure out what they’re on is part of the tragedy that has befallen this city. Residents are constantly assessing their risk factor. As another resident explains:
You constantly have to be aware of who you are around. Always stay visible to other people so you can call for help. Stay near places that are open or where people can hear you calling for help. Drug use is totally out in the open. We have a man living in the bushes on Main Street, he smokes crystal meth in the open, he craps in the same bushes, and he wears a loincloth. He walks around all day defecating in the bushes and smoking crystal meth from a pipe. He is almost always high, but he gets violent when he comes down. All the residents know him. You don’t want to be around these people when they’re coming down.
Homeless Encampments Create No-Go Zones
Entire blocks of Venice Beach have become the site of permanent homeless encampments, where residents cannot park their cars, walk their dogs, or, in some cases, patronize local businesses which leads to those businesses closing their doors. As described by an eyewitness:
It’s like a whack a mole. When they’re cleared out they just pop up in a new place. When they were temporarily cleared off the beach they moved to Rose and 3rd, the ‘no ticket zone’ because you can do anything there and not get written up. It’s considered a ‘contained encampment,’ a place that the LAPD have designated as a defacto homeless haven. They are like Favelas where the homeless know they can retreat to and there is no law.
These areas where they are concentrated is evidence of how much property they have. Tents, chairs, bicycles, umbrellas; they take up a lot of space and claim the sidewalks. There are frequent fights over the space, a lot of homeless on homeless stabbings, they are fighting over property. On what we call ‘RV Row,’ there are over 30 RVs on Main Street that they have to move every Monday for street cleaning. They move their cars exactly when the sweepers come.
Many of these RVs are not drivable so they literally push them to the other side of the street, then push them back again. There is a whole crew that controls RV Row, putting their RVs up on blocks to level them off. Residents can forget about ever parking their cars on the street. And then there are the vans filled with homeless, which are all over Venice, and they are even worse. The occupants will do drugs all night in their van; you can hear them partying in the vans. They park in front of homes constantly playing music and shouting etc. all night long.
Nearly All Venice Homeless Are Drug Addicts
You don’t have to be a clinical psychiatrist to tell when someone is obviously insane, or under the influence of narcotics. You just have to live in Venice Beach for more than a few days.
According to residents, and contrary to the pandering progressive nonsense that comes from the Homeless Industrial Complex, nearly everyone who is homeless in Venice Beach is a heavy drug user. The population might be generally subdivided as follows:
About one-third are mentally ill and heavy drug users. Another one-third are heavy drug users who have become mentally ill because of the drugs. And the final one-third are just heavy drug users.
None of these people belong unsupervised on the streets, crapping and fighting and stealing, destroying a community, while the progressive politicians get rich pretending to fix the problem. Letting this happen is a despicable betrayal of the residents by these politicians. And it’s not doing these homeless people any favors, either. They are lost souls. They need help, and they’re not going to get it.
And so, day after day, the story goes on. As those of us in more peaceful neighborhoods listen to the weather reports, the besieged residents of Venice Beach listen to reports of fights, thefts, rapes, and murders. Here’s one of the latest dispatches from the Western Front of Progressive Insanity:
I cycled down the boardwalk at 7 a.m. today. Cool looking guy with blue sunglasses openly selling drugs. Homeless all over the place and rubbish all over the side of the boardwalk. A huge crap on the bike path. Then fire trucks, cop cars and life guard cars at one of the life guard towers. Apparently they found a dead body and started a homicide investigation. Such an exciting place for tourists to take their kids for a walk in the morning and then write home to tell all their friends to come and visit. Where else can you be in a life crime scene on a daily basis?
The Woke Plan to Bring the Western Front to EVERY Neighborhood in America
The consequences of progressive policies towards the homeless embrace a host of interlinking flawed beliefs. This is why it is not enough to stop the LA City Council from building a 156 bed “wet” homeless shelter on three acres of city owned property at 100 Sunset Avenue in the heart of Venice Beach, at a cost of well over $100 million (the property alone is worth over $90 million), or a 140 unit apartment to provide “permanent supportive housing” at a cost of well over $200 million, on another three acres of city owned property in the median between North and South Venice Boulevard, one block from the sand, also in the heart of Venice Beach.
These two projects are perfectly legal, but nonetheless are morally criminal examples of corruption. Because there isn’t enough money in the world to see all of them through, eventually projects like this will be stopped, even if those two abominations are pushed through to completion. But stopping these projects is not enough, because the fall back plan being pushed by progressives is just as bad, if not worse.
Progressive extremists believe that simply providing a safe, well-appointed dwelling will cause the pathology afflicting homeless people to subside. They also believe that dispersing homeless people into subsidized dwellings in tranquil neighborhoods everywhere will be “inclusive” and further alleviate their pathology. And there are powerful financial incentives for them to pursue this policy.
By pretending the homeless crisis is inextricably linked to a shortage of housing, and because it is considered heresy to expand the urban footprint, draconian new state zoning guidelines are poised to become laws that will override local ordinances. It will become permissible to demolish single family homes in single family neighborhoods and replace them with multi-family dwellings. At the same time it will become mandatory for landlords to accept Section 8 and other subsidized renters.
California’s progressive lawmakers are planning to seed California’s suburbs with high density dwellings, randomly placed, and fill them with taxpayer subsidized renters. This is where they will relocate the homeless, including substance abusers and mentally ill. The cost of supervising these people when they are disbursed throughout the cities and suburbs will make it scarcely less wasteful than constructing gargantuan palaces at $500,000 (or more) per unit, but progressive ideology and corrupt financial opportunism make this an attractive Plan B for the woke.
Across the suburbs of California in the coming years, expect homes to become worth more to buyers to demolish and replace as a Section 8 fourplexes. And as these suburbs fall prey to increased crime, the state will move in, extending to residential courts and cul de sacs the same pervasive surveillance that already blankets our cities.
There are alternatives to destroying our cities and suburbs in order to feed profits to investors and power to corrupt politicians and bureaucrats. But it will require more than a revolution that merely moves policy from the obviously unworkable Plan A (expensive palaces that “help” only a few) to the insidious yet feasible Plan B (rezone suburbs for subsidized multifamily units).
It will require a realignment that allows conservatives and liberals to join together to demand quick, decisive, cost-effective action. Call in the national guard who can work with law enforcement to round up the homeless, move them into quickly erected tent cities on state-owned land away from residential areas, and use the billions in savings to get them treatment. If the governor declared a state of emergency, it could be done in a matter of weeks.
From an ideological standpoint, that will require a common recognition that the rights of hard working and responsible people have to be given, at the very least, equal priority to the rights of drug addicts and psychotics.
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Edward Ring is a co-founder of the California Policy Center and served as its first president. This article originally appeared on the website American Greatness