Sheriff Alex Villanueva waded into the morass of homelessness in Los Angeles this week by deploying a team of deputies to the Venice boardwalk, a tinderbox in the city’s struggle to deal with the mounting crisis.
The move, which drew the ire of the city councilman for Venice, came after Villanueva has railed in recent weeks against city officials for their handling of homelessness issues. Being careful not to malign the Los Angeles Police Department, which patrols Venice, the sheriff said city leaders have hamstrung the LAPD from taking a more aggressive posture when dealing with homeless people.
“Public space belongs to the entire public, not to one individual. And that is the fundamental responsibility of government. That’s the fundamental failure of the Board of Supervisors, L.A. City Council and the mayor of L.A. — they have refused to regulate public space,” Villanueva said Monday. “And that is why the problem is growing exponentially year after year.”
For a few weeks at least, sheriff’s deputies will not be making arrests or taking other enforcement measures on the boardwalk, one of the city’s iconic tourist attractions.