LOS ANGELES—World-renowned Venice Beach has long been a place where visitors, residents, and business owners commingled with artists, musicians, and entertainers from all over the country. Over 10 million tourists visit the beach’s famous boardwalk each year, drawn in by the ocean view and the unconventional lifestyle of the city’s eccentric community.
But the famed destination no longer circulates in headlines for its wacky tourist attractions or local eateries. Instead, the beach town has become known worldwide for its flourishing homeless encampments, burgeoning filth, skyrocketing crime rate, and increasingly violent transients.
As city officials dawdle, the beachside town is falling to ruin, residents say, overwhelmed by the homeless that are making their lives a living hell.
Their cries for help have gone largely unheeded—until now. Earlier this week, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva announced a July 4th sweep that aims to clean up the mess.
For residents who have been trying to get local officials to act for months, the action can’t come soon enough.
During a recent trip to Venice, Villanueva said the tents need to be cleared by Independence Day, after reports of crime, arson, and filth went unaddressed for months. He blames elected leaders for not handling the issue.
“When I was out there in Venice, I talked to a shop owner, and he was fit to be tied,” Villanueva told The Epoch Times.
“He’s tired of politicians, tired of people in the city doing nothing. And it’s impacting his ability for customers to come in, [with] the cost of people trying to break into his business and people causing scenes, fights, [and] outside fires. It’s like a third-world country.”
But not all locals approve of the sweep. Some activists quickly criticized the move on social media. “Why is this @LASDHQ dressed like this to do outreach? Why do they have guns?” the People’s City Council asked on Twitter.
For some residents, the uptick in recent violent attacks by the homeless on workers, residents, and the elderly are justification enough.
BY JAMIE JOSEPH