The Venice Beach boardwalk. Photo by John Schreiber.
The Venice Beach boardwalk. Photo by John Schreiber.

The Venice Stakeholders Association announced Monday that it has filed an appellate court brief in hopes of keeping alive its lawsuit that claims the city and county of Los Angeles are neglecting the beach area and allowing health and safety hazards like trash and feces to flourish.

In its original complaint, filed in 2014, the VSA maintained that during the previous five years, “on almost a daily basis,” the city and county had “failed to control and maintain” the Venice beach area and surrounding areas by allowing “transients and other individuals” to bring baggage, camping gear and personal belongings to the area at “all hours of the day and night.”

The complaint faulted the city for failing to enforce an ordinance that restricts people from setting up encampments to sleep overnight at the beach area, which is considered a park owned by the city and partly managed by the county.

In 2015, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Gregory Alarcon ruled against the city and county’s effort to have the lawsuit dismissed, but that decision was later overturned by the 2nd District Court of Appeal, and the VSA’s appeal brief is an effort to keep its lawsuit moving forward.

The VSA argues in its brief that the issues it is raising in the case must be tried by a jury and are not subject to the city and county’s motions for summary judgment.

The city and county have argued in court that they are keeping the area reasonably clean and safe, but the VSA maintains that regular drug use, crimes, excessively loud noise, harassment, vandalism of surrounding properties, illegal camping on public property, regular blocking of sidewalks by bulky items and other problems exist in the beach area, which extends from the border of Marina del Rey south to Santa Monica.

When the lawsuit was filed in 2014, Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin, who represents the area, said he also was frustrated by the “deplorable conditions on and near Venice Beach” but that the city’s own attempts to manage vending, sleeping in public areas, camping and trash in the area had all been stymied by the courts.

“The courts have repeatedly told the city of Los Angeles what it cannot do,” Bonin said. “While the source of the (Venice Stakeholders Association’s) ire is more appropriately aimed at the courts, if this lawsuit results in a ruling that tells the city what it can or must do, I would welcome it.”

–City News Service

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