Sheriff Sends Deputies to Venice Beach Homeless Encampments

LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has repeatedly clashed with county leaders. Now, a fight could be brewing between the sheriff and the city.

On Tuesday, Villanueva sent homeless outreach deputies to interface with unhoused individuals along the Venice Beach Boardwalk, where a sprawling homeless encampment has disrupted residents’ daily lives. The area is under the jurisdiction of the Los Angeles Police Department, but the sheriff says local politicians have prevented the LAPD from doing its job.

“The city of LA created this problem," Villanueva said Monday. "This is a failure of leadership from the very top."

Villanueva has been posting video of the "humanitarian mission" on his Twitter account. It shows deputies helping homeless individuals, including a US Navy veteran, find shelter while crews clean up amassed debris. The sheriff says he plans to have the entire area cleared by July 4.

If you were expecting a turf battle between LASD and LAPD, you were wrong. Police appear happy to have the help.

“The Los Angeles Police Department is committed to working with all of our public safety partner agencies and elected officials to improve the safety of our communities, including efforts to increase outreach and provide needed housing and supportive services in the Venice Beach community and elsewhere,” the LAPD said in a statement.

One person who isn’t happy is Mike Bonin, the city councilman who represents this part of town. He excoriated the sheriff on Twitter, accusing him of pulling a publicity stunt for political gain.

Villanueva is well known for his defiant antics. But if this is a stunt, the worsening situation in Venice Beach has made it all too easy for him to pull. Just a day before Villanueva sent homeless outreach teams to the area, an unhoused woman was arrested for pulling a knife at a mayoral campaign rally for LA City Councilman Joe Buscaino. Buscaino was whisked away to safety, but a police officer was injured in the process. 

See also: Murder and Mayhem Among LA's Homeless