Homeless crisis: Mayor Eric Garcetti tours Venice as residents call for meaningful change

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti publicly toured Venice on Tuesday amid an ongoing political battle about how to best address the homeless crisis plaguing the beachside community. 

Tuesday was the first time we saw Garcetti tour the area during this crisis. He was seen walking up and down the Venice Boardwalk, an area of great concern to residents due to a recent increase in crime.

"I’m here, I’ve been here quite a bit, I just don’t call the press when I do it," Garcetti told FOX 11's Sandra Endo.

When asked how many times he's been there, Garcetti said, "Countless times to Venice since I’ve been mayor, and regularly during this crisis, I mean I can’t tell you how many times during the pandemic specifically, but to me, this is not about a press conference, it’s about placements, people and housing."

Endo noted that Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva called the mayor one of the architects of failure in addressing the homeless crisis in Venice. 

"I’m not going to get into a pissing match with the sheriff, I welcome him here. If he doesn’t want to have press conferences but he wants to have results, we housed more people yesterday than he had all week. And one could ask the same thing, where has he been? This is not about throwing stones around," Garcetti said. "I have great respect for anybody, including him, whether it’s a council member or anybody else who wants to get involved. Get involved with the work not with the rhetoric."


The issue has been very contentious given the fact that the jurisdiction is unclear as to whose problem this is. The area falls under the jurisdiction of Councilman Mike Bonin, who has blamed a lack of resources and government funding for prolonging meaningful change.

"I’ve had plans out there for a long time. If we had the funding for it and people stopped road blocking them, then we’d get stuff done," Bonin said during a May interview with FOX 11.

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Since then, Bonin has launched an outreach effort to combat the growing problem. Outreach teams are beginning to offer those experiencing homelessness along the Venice Beach Boardwalk assistance including housing and mental health services.

Those who live in the oceanside encampment will be given the choice of accepting the offer or moving out of the area. Bonin said his plan differs from Sheriff Villanueva’s, who has been critical of the many plans aimed to address LA’s homeless crisis.

Sheriff Villanueva said he doesn’t necessarily want to be in Venice but city and county officials have failed the community, the residents, the tourists, and the unhoused, which is why he’s moving in to take matters into his own hands.

"What’s the number one failure of local government, at the county and city level? Why every measure fails? We see the problem get bigger and bigger every year, because the city and county decided they will not regulate public space. When you don’t regulate public space, it will be occupied by somebody from somewhere," the sheriff said in a press conference last week.

Villanueva said his deputies have found housing for at least 15 people but there are an estimated 200 residents on the boardwalk.

Initial funding was slated at $5 million and the LA City Council had to postpone the vote until July 1 for fiscal and procedural reasons. 

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FOX 11's Kelli Johnson contributed to this report.