Once a vibrant part of the Venice community, Friends of the Venice Library say sprawling homeless encampments on the grounds and in the nearby park have made the library unsafe and unsanitary.
“The library is definitely under siege,” said Linda Martinek, a member of the citizens action group. “It looks like the apocalypse, it really does. It looks like the end of the world.”
Last week, a homeless tent caught fire burning up against the walls of the library.
Bert Fallon, another member of the group, said he was “disgusted” by the fire that got too close to building.
“They almost burned it down,” Fallon said “We’ve been warning the City this was going to happen.”
Last week, the Los Angeles Council City passed an amendment to the anti-camping law which bans camping within 500 feet of a school or daycare. Now, councilman Joe Buscaino wants to add city libraries to the ban.
The proposal has opposition, including from councilman Mike Bonin of the 11th District where the Venice Library is located. Bonin has vowed to vote against adding libraries to the ban, insisting that criminalizing encampments doesn’t work.
“We have an approach in the City of Los Angeles, which says by pushing the problem around we can solve it. It doesn’t work,” Bonin said.
Instead, Bonin says the homeless need shelter and services.
But people who live nearby say after more than a year of the encampments getting larger, dirtier and more dangerous, they’re afraid of what the next fire could bring
“We used to come here for story time,” said Julie Bean, who lives near the library. “Sometimes I can’t even handle the stench on the way in and we just don’t feel safe.”
Editor’s note: A previous version of this story gave incorrect last names for two people quoted. The post has been updated.