LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva is offering to have his deputies help clean the streets of Hollywood, which have been overrun in recent years by homeless encampments.
“The Los Angeles County Sheriff has plans to make Hollywood feel safer despite it not being LASD’s patrol area,” the department tweeted Sunday.
The sheriff compared the idea to last summer’s effort in Venice, where Villanueva led a walking tour on the boardwalk with deputies, reaching out to some homeless individuals to gauge their interest in receiving government- provided housing. Officials later cleared out a major homeless encampment in the area.
Like Hollywood, Venice falls within the jurisdiction of the Los Angeles Police Department.
“We’re gonna go invade the beach again Memorial Day all the way through Labor Day,” Villanueva told Fox11 on Saturday. “Just so we’re sending that message that it is safe to vacation here for local residents, it is safe for tourists to make this a destination.”
The LAPD declined to comment on the offer when reached by City News Service on Sunday.
Villanueva’s efforts in Venice drew criticism from some politicians and community organizations. A statement put out by a coalition of local advocacy groups said: “Time and time again, this approach has proven to fail in Los Angeles, and cause harm to people already dealing with crisis, trauma and the extreme lack of affordable housing across our region and especially on the Westside.”
But the sheriff said the homelessness crisis within Los Angeles city limits prompted him to take action, and accused Councilman Mike Bonin and Mayor Eric Garcetti of hampering the LAPD in its ability to do its job with regard to encampments.
“I’m not going to blame LAPD whatsoever,” Villanueva 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.”