Harry Culver’s Dream City Reduced to Skid Row By Local Politicians

When Harry Culver designed his dream city, he probably never foresaw that local politicians and activists would turn the once clean city that bears his name into a filth-ridden tent encampment that the Los Angeles Times has dubbed the West Side Skid Row.

Residents report—and both Culver City and Los Angeles Police Department officers agree—that Culver City’s skid row is home to drug dealers, who openly deal drugs in the neighboring residential streets, drug users who shoot dope in the open, oblivious to the hapless residents and children trying to enjoy a quiet Sunday in front of their houses, and prostitutes.

“But Being Homless Isn’t Criminal. . .”

No, it’s not. And no one is saying it should be.

But what is criminal is the city’s refusal to enforce basic city codes and laws that keep the streets and residents of Harry Culver’s dream city safe.

Permanent Tent City Under the 405-Overpass

It was in July 1913 that Harry Culver announced his plans to develop a city in a spot between Los Angeles and Venice.

Amidst the crime and corruption of Los Angeles, Culver City, the city that bears our founder’s name, has historically been a haven of peace, safety, and cleanliness.

Not any more, as is evident from the image on the left taken from Culver City’s Globe Avenue.

Things began to change in 2017, when Los Angeles our neighbor refused to enforce its vagrancy laws, allowing known drug dealers, felons, drug abusers, and severely mentally ill people to set up tents on the north—Los Angeles—side of Venice Boulevard under the 405 freeway overpass.

Residents of Culver City’s Globe Avenue on the south side of Venice Boulevard were already beginning to feel the negative effects of this decision. Residents reported their cars were being broken into, bicycles, tools, and other personal property stolen. Petty crime was on the rise.

On a couple of occasions gunshots were heard—some gang or the other protesting the vagrants’ encroachment of their drug turf.

As Culver City residents, we couldn’t appeal to our city. After all, this was an LA issue. But residents feared that before long the problem would spill over onto our side of the overpass.

That fear came to pass in the late summer of 2019. Tents began to be put up on the south side of Venice Boulevard. Calls to the police were of no avail.

Dispatch either argued with residents, insisting the south side of Venice Boulevard under the 405-freeway was under the jurisdiction of Los Angeles.

When police officers did respond, it was to put up removal notices, which were never heeded.

Then came a threat from Mike Bonin, and our city council under Mayor Meghan Sahli Wells and our city attorney caved.

But being homeless isn’t a crime, you say. No it’s not.

But a failure to keep our streets and sidewalks clean is. As is a failure to keep our residents safe.

Letter to council regarding the rent freeze “urgency” clause

Hi there, Ron here. I wrote the following letter to council regarding the rent freeze, questioning the urgency of it. All five councilmemebers and the city attorney got some version of this letter. It references section 10 of the LA County’s rent freeze.

“I’m concerned about the urgency clause about your rent freeze measure set for vote Monday the 12th.  You have not given any evidence of the rapidly rising rents or price gouging that you claim exists in Culver City.  Indeed Goran Eriksson called attention to this point.  At the June 24th meeting, he said he was asking for real data so he could understand “what is reality?” 

Instead, up until now, all we have to go by is the Los Angeles unincorporated county’s rent freeze proposal.  It’s the typical lawfare tactics we’ve become all too used to lately.  By enacting this in LA, they created a precedent where the stakeholders (i.e. multifamily owners) aren’t significant enough to try contesting it.  Then you try to apply it somewhere like Culver City where the stakeholders are significant.  Knowing full well that to try to contest this claim would cost a prohibitive sum in the courts.  This tactic is unethical and sullies our legal system.

Furthermore, it leaves us wondering if we are actually having a conversation about rents, or whether we’re getting railroaded with this, despite the protests of residents.  And it makes us wonder if we still have a good faith relationship with you and the city council.  

If we do not see any evidence of a conversation, if this does go through as our more cynical residents expect, then the only conversation left is what ballot measures we can work with to make our voices heard.

That being said, here are the issues I see with the LA Unincorporated rent freeze – namely with section 10, the call to urgency you’re referencing.  Letters reference the subsections:

A. County needs an additional ½ million homes to meet demand.  And yet the flood of new regulations has caused new apartment building applications to drop over 40%. Who wants to invest in housing with the threat of statewide rent control and other regulations?  Government cronies with bloated building contracts will be the only ones left.

B. May 2018 – how’s that compared to earlier?  2013?  2008?  How much of this is rising rents, how much is an unchanging metric, how much of this is a poorer demographic moving into the city?

C. Average apartment rents increased over 25% in 5 years – that’s only 5% per year.  Far slower than the 80% home price rise.  You’re essentially calling urgency over a 1% difference in rent raises between what you want and what the market has borne.

D. 77% “rent burdened” – again, how much of this has changed over the past five years, and how much of it is a fact of life?  This is a statistic that is historically ignored in LA – to live here in the city, or in any high-rent city, is to be “rent burdened.”  People pay a premium to live in the city.

E. This is the big one, and is utterly disingenuous.  It makes no measure of how many of our new “homeless” population are addicts and petty criminals let loose on the streets due to props 47, 57, and AB109.  First responders agree that generally the “homeless” have serious drug and mental health issues.  Dr Drew has also been pressing this point.  Indeed the very term “homeless” is a disingenuous term to describe such people.  With no regular means of livelihood, they are more appropriately described as vagrants.

F.  The city of Los Angeles has a demonstrated history of packing its committees and public meetings with its own advocates.  We must acknowledge this.M.  Repeating E – the bigger threat to public welfare is the state backing out of the public safety business.  Law enforcement is left powerless to deal with drug addicts and petty criminals.