LA Homeless Crisis: Sheriff's dept. working to clear out encampments that pose wildfire threat

Los Angeles County continues to tackle its homeless crisis, especially targeting and clearing out encampments by the beach. 


During a Facebook Live Wednesday, Sheriff Alex Villanueva stated that the department is now working to clear out homeless encampments in the Malibu area.

He said certain homeless encampments in Malibu pose as a wildfire threat. 

Earlier this week, arson detectives went to Malibu Lagoon State Beach to assist with a wildland fire.

The sheriff said two fires occurred at the same location within three days; all the fires were human caused and occurred at or near homeless encampments. 

"We are working actively to clear out the encampments; they are a threat to be the flashpoint of a wildland fire where the urban interface with the wildland and the foothills that is our primary. That is Topanga Canyon, Pacific Palisades and all around the perimeter of Malibu; all that is high fire danger," the sheriff stated. 

He says the sheriff’s department is going up and down the beach, from Malibu to Marina Del Rey, and working with local law enforcement to establish a visible presence in the area. 

He says he will not tolerate any extreme behavior that could jeopardize the residents and tourists. He expressed that people should feel safe when going to the beach. 

Venice Boardwalk 

Meanwhile, sanitation workers continues to clean up the Venice Boardwalk. The Venice Boardwalk has become an area of great concern to residents due to a recent increase in crime.

For the past few months, the sheriff’s department and outreach teams have walked along the boardwalk, spoke with homeless people and offered housing and mental health services. 

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

According to Villanueva, during their outreach over 250 homeless people were interviewed. During that interview, the sheriff’s department gathered stats on their age, gender, race and location of origin. 

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Villanueva said majority of the homeless people in Venice came to California from other states. He said 23 states were listed as location of origin including, Ohio, Texas, Maryland, Louisiana and even countries such as Iraq, Germany and Mexico. 

According to data they collected, 70% of the Venice homeless population is male, 29% is female, 1% identify as transgender, 57% were White, 24% were Black and 13% were Hispanic. 

While discussing the homeless crisis on Facebook Live, the sheriff stated that LA County has half of the state’s entire homeless population. According to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, in 2020 over 66,000 people in Los Angeles County were experiencing homelessness. 

The sheriff said in the past 10 years $6.5 billion has been spent to address the homeless problem in LA County. 

"Governor if you wish to have them on your vineyard, in your property, in our mansion by all means you have the freedom to invite them there, but here in LA County we are pretty much full," the sheriff exclaimed when referring to Governor Newsom’s California Comeback Plan. 

RELATED: Funding for the homeless, affordable housing key components of Newsom's state comeback plan

On Monday, Newsom addressed the state's homelessness crisis from the city of Sebastopol in Sonoma County where he signed a $12 billion bill for homeless funding.  

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