Law Firm Representing VSA and Venice Boardwalk Businesses Puts City On Notice.
The law firm representing Venice Stakeholders Association (VSA) and numerous Boardwalk businesses filed a letter with multiple city organizations highlighting the dangers of recent transient related fires on the Venice Boardwalk–again putting the City on notice.
The letter, filed by litigation and land use counsel attorney Jeff Lewis, states that while some of the recent arson perpetrators have been arrested, the City needs to take a more proactive approach to prevent such fires in the first place. In addition, Lewis said that banning camping and tents at night is imperative to keeping the area safe. Lewis first highlighted the fire on January 23, 2021, which destroyed 723 Ocean Front Walk. It took 116 firefighters 2 hours and 17 minutes in a primarily defensive firefighting operation to extinguish the flames of that fire. The Los Angeles Fire Department said the fire spread from a homeless encampment– where a tent was tied up to the building that was destroyed. The fire quickly also posed a risk to adjoining residential facilities.
Two other letters were sent to the City last year by Lewis. In those letters, Lewis stated that transients had set other fires since the January 2021 fire, and the City’s liability risk has grown. Arbor Flagship Store Venice Lewis refers to the most recent fires set on January 24 and January 25. On the 24th, two people lit a large cardboard box on fire on the Boardwalk, which ignited one of the park benches nearby. The following night, two people lit 15 trash cans along the Boardwalk, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. The two transients responsible for those fires have since been arrested and face arson charges. Mark Ryavec, president of the VSA, stated that he believes the LAFD Fast Response vehicle assigned to the Boardwalk this past summer was in response to Lewis’s previous letters. However, Ryavec highlights that the fire truck could only handle 300 gallons of water and only operated from the hours of 9:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m. “Most fires are started after hours when it is dark and cold,” stated Ryavc. It’s something Lewis also highlighted in his letter. “There is no police or fire department presence evident throughout the night on most nights.” Lewis also points out that the City’s continued failure to enforce the overnight curfew and ban camping in the face of certain fire risks “is negligent and equates to complete and unquestionable city liability for any future loss of life, injury, or fire damage to structures.” “The intended letter is to put in stark terms the lability the city faces because it’s not enforcing the curfew,” said Ryavec. “I don’t believe people will stop coming from around the country to camp on Venice Beach until it is known that if you try to sleep on Venice Beach, you will be removed, and your stuff will be confiscated.” “What is missing? They aren’t enforcing the law every night,” said Ryavec. “It is entirely a question of resources. The police are willing to be out there on more nights-but, it’s worthless because all they can do is give a ticket. ” Ryavec stated that the police also need LA Sanitation. “If Sanitation goes with police, they [Sanitation] are legally authorized to pick up what the transients leave out. The option needs to leave and take all your stuff, or you will have to spend some time getting it back. That works. ” Ryavec added that it would be great if the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority could join the groups. Lewis stated that in the event a fire jumps from a transient-related fire to “one of my client’s property, or causes damage to any of their tenant’s personal property, or to life or limb, there will be no question that the City had been warned of this danger and by failing to enforce the overnight curfew contained in LAMC § 63.44 strictly and to remove all tents, encampments, personal items.” Source: https://www.westsidecurrent.com/news/law-firm-representing-vsa-and-venice-boardwalk-businesses-puts-city-on-notice/article_adb6091a-87b7-11ec-9873-63daf49f8241.html