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by Peggy Lee Kennedy
Wednesday, Apr. 04, 2012 at 12:24 PM
Allegedly Progressive and openly Gay Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl may go down in history as the most divisive leader Venice has ever had by continuously organizing with and siding with people who hate the poor and homeless people of Venice.
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From the time Rosendahl came into office he has said compassionate things about standing on the side of the poor and the homeless, but he has worked with those in the community that simply think criminalizing and sweeping homeless people out of the community is the answer. The anti-homeless Oversized Vehicle law and Overnight Permit Parking law both were brought in by Rosendahl when he first came into office in 2005. Later, after losing twice at the California Coastal Commission on the [anti-vehicle housed] Overnight Permit Parking, he publicly said, “I wouldn’t want those people parking in front of my house.” This should have showed some of us how Rosendahl thinks about “those people.”
Truth be told – we should have known well before that comment was ever made how Rosendahl really feels about homeless people. Rosendahl was a Neighborhood Watch Block Captain and, in the affluent West Side of Los Angeles, this often means actively working with the LAPD and other homeowners to protect the neighborhood from suspicious Riff Raff (translation: poor, homeless, or people of color).
Quite organically, new stars are rising here in Venice calling on people of human compassion to stand up against the hate and lies spread about homeless people – a voice from the 99% asking for people to seek real solutions and stop the hate. Occupy Venice’s Deborah LaShever wrote an Open Letter to the Community which was printed on the front page of the April 2012 Free Venice Beachhead newspaper. (See http://freevenicebeachhead.wordpress.com/2012/04/01/an-open-letter-to-the-community/ ) Ms LaShever thinks homeless people are not just some scourge to remove from our community and wants to work on some real solutions.
Standing for the human and civil rights of homeless people should not have to mean LaShever falls victim to an organized and hateful wrath that has been nurtured here in Venice for years by the City. Unfortunately the old-timers all know once you take that stand for human and civil rights for homeless people, out comes the negativity and hate: Venice Stakeholders, YoVenice, Venice311, and much more may post lies and nasty hatemongering on the internet about you.
The city might pretend to listen to LaShever’s ideas, but then try to get her doing things to keep her busy on some committee while the city buys (or sells) more time for the gentrification to get stronger. Or they might outright sabotage her efforts by making her work with Mark Ryavec on any solution.
Our reality has been that the only possibly positive things the city can figure to do is issue a few section 8 vouchers placing people outside of our community in privatized slum lord owned cockroach filled apartments and maybe putting in a few shelter beds, which is not a solution. If you think shelters are – go sleep in one yourself and get back to me after. Until then just shut up.
Every expert of any merit knows that decent low cost housing with or near services (and tolerance with emergency help until then) are the answers. So why doesn’t the city and the county invest in a credible organization like Venice Community Housing to buy more apartments in the area and really housing people near services? I say we better brace ourselves for more criminalization hell, because it does not seem to be getting much better and the city or county refuse to spend money on the real solutions. Law enforcement and criminalization are their answers to homelessness.
I know I should act more optimistic, but history has made its mark. Rosendahl has had plenty opportunities to take serious political stands against the anti-homeless hate movement, but he just keeps playing us back and forth, grandstanding by falsely offering solutions he cannot create and ultimately taking sides with the hatemongers – which has caused a riff here in Venice between the haves and the have-nots like never before. And, not to mention, has encouraged a venomous amount of hatemongering never seen before in Venice.
A short list of Rosendahl’s anti-homeless record in Venice:
• Rosendahl moved two new anti-homeless laws through the City Council after he was first elected.
• Rosendahl helped form a task force used to tow, arrest, ticket, have pets impounded, and effectively torture over 200 homeless people living in vehicles out of Venice.
• Rosendahl said he would decriminalize living in a vehicle in places for homeless people. In fact he never found one parking spot for one person living in one vehicle near services in Venice.
• Rosendahl put up oversized vehicle signs all around in Venice to make it illegal to live in a vehicle and worked hand-in-hand with Mark Rayovak of the Venice Stakeholders, one of the most influential anti-homeless groups in Venice, on putting in street signs and advocating for permit parking to remove homeless people living in vehicles from Venice.
• Rosendahl used Venice surplus Property funds to pay for the anti-homeless street signs
• Rosendahl never put in place a well advertised safe parking program he promised to install in Venice and used Venice Surplus Property funds to pay for.
• Rosendahl is in favor of criminalizing street people if they will not enter into a shelter, even if it means abandoning a pet, or if they will not accept social services that cannot help them find affordable housing near Venice.
• Rosendahl lays silent while the LAPD uses ant-gay fundamentalist Christian Clergy in Venice in an attempt to relocate Venice street people to South Central LA.
Rosendahl is certainly not the worst mortal on the planet and he did not start gentrification in Venice, but he has actively worked with the anti-homeless criminalization gentrification machine in Venice since elected and has been part of a homeless slaughter like never before seen in Venice.
Maybe you say I am being harsh and I am making an unnecessary enemy. Rosendahl is good on some issues (like the post office) and he is just doing his job or just caught in the middle of a bad situation. Like the LAPD and the City Attorney’s office? Well I happen to believe they should all take a stand - we should all be standing together for Human Rights and defending the US Constitution. This is all we have people – plus trying to save our planet and working for peace on earth.
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