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‘Our Customers Feel Safe’: Venice Boardwalk Cleaned Up After Sheriff Homeless Sweeps

The music is back in Venice Beach.

The social media influencers are back.

There’s tennis being played in the tennis courts and handball in the handball courts.

Today, the Boardwalk is very different to what it was in July when an estimated 260 people called the streets home.

Paula Ruiz, the owner of Amor Amor hat shop on the Boardwalk, says tourists – and even locals – have finally come back.

“Our customers feel safe,” she said. “They’re happy and enjoy the beach and you can see them smiling saying, ‘Yeah. It’s clean.'”

Last summer LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva sent his homeless outreach team in a promise to clear the Boardwalk within weeks. It took longer than anticipated, but with help from the Saint Joseph Center and a concerted effort from the local councilman’s office, some say Venice looks great now.

“it’s very very beautiful,” said Braa salh, recently visiting from Memphis. “I like the atmosphere. Everybody is free here.”

Others say they’re floored by the unexpected change.

“Oh, I love Venice,” said Matthew Banks, recently visiting from Canada. “I couldn’t believe it. I thought it was still going to be full of homeless here.”

Yet some Venice residents say it’s a different view come nightfall.

“They’ve stopped short,” Mark Ryavec, the president of The Venice Stakeholders Association dedicated to civic improvement.

He says the Boardwalk still sees upwards of 90 people living there through the night.

“There’s not enough enforcement at night. We’ve seen a lot of people come back.”

Now the encampments are seen away from the Boardwalk, lines of RVs sit parked a block inland and in a median on Venice Boulevard.

“We’ve gone from having a couple of tents to over 45 tents,” Ryavec said. “We now have a bike chop shop operation with stolen bikes being changed out so they’re not identifiable anymore.”

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