LOS ANGELES — The sheriff of Los Angeles County dispatched deputies Tuesday to Venice Beach to assess the homelessness problem, a day after he called out city officials for failing to adequately address the growing number of people sleeping outdoors along the famous strand.
Venice is the jurisdiction of the Los Angeles Police Department, not the Sheriff’s Department. But Sheriff Alex Villanueva said he was moved to act because of “the failures of local politicians in regard to the homelessness crisis.”
Villanueva tweeted Monday that he was sending the Sheriff’s Department’s Homeless Outreach Services Team to the beach, where encampments have proliferated along the popular boardwalk and in surrounding neighborhoods.
The sheriff said the goal was to clear the area of homeless encampments by July 4.
News reports showed nearly two dozen sheriff’s deputies along with social workers and volunteers talking to some of the dozens of people living in tents and makeshift shelters near the famous boardwalk.
“What we saw was human misery,” Lt. Geff Deedrick, head of the sheriff’s team, told KNBC-TV.
“This isn’t a one-size-fits-all issue,” he said. “This is individual conversations. We need to know who’s here and what their individual needs are.”
“They’re going to start interfacing with the homeless, start doing their assessments and figuring out where everybody is in their transition from being homeless to being housed,” he told CBS 2 News.
Villaneuva told CBS 2 News that he was not trying to start a turf battle with the Police Department, but instead was trying to help.
“I’m not going to blame LAPD whatsoever,” he said. “I think they can definitely do the job. They’re more than capable, have good leadership. However, if they’re hamstrung by politicians that don’t want them to do their job, well then they’re left in a very, very bad situation.”