Despite some recent progress, Venice Beach residents have concerns about the safety of the area around the Venice Beach Boardwalk.
Last January, a homeless encampment caught fire, and the blaze spread to a nearby building.
More recently, trash cans and a park bench near the boardwalk have also been set ablaze, prompting fears that the next fire could spread and damage the nearby area.
Over the summer, more than 200 campers were moved out, but there are still about 70 people living on the boardwalk, said Mark Ryavec, president of the Venice Stakeholders Association.
“They never finished the job. They never got the last 70. They never got them either in psychiatric care or the meds, the rehab, the housing, whatever it is they still need, they just gave up and declared victory, and it wasn’t over,” Ryavec said.
Instead, the Los Angeles mayor’s office, police and other city departments need to come together to create lasting change before a fire spreads to nearby buildings and threatens property and lives, Ryavec added.
“With some of the campers here trying to get warm, they’ve been lighting fires … We’re very, very concerned that one of these is going to jump to a building, and God forbid it jumps to a building that has people living in it. A lot of these second stories here are all apartments, and many of them are old, wooden structures, so the potential [is] for them to go up like that,” he said.
Reza Kaimi, a local business owner, added that the risk is “huge, because if you have wind, it’s going to burn down the whole city.”
“These units and houses are very close to each other,” Kaimi said. “It’s not like the San Fernando Valley, where you’ve got some space. They’re literally 8 feet apart, 5 feet apart, so if it’s fire and it’s wind, it’s done.”