Sign O’ the Times (The Shelter)



Mayor Garcetti’s A Bridge Home

Last week I attended a Los Angeles City Council meeting with members of LA CAN.  On the agenda was a vote on a proposed shelter for Korea Town.  The president of the council Wesson allowed speakers on each side 25 minutes to state their case.  The chambers were full and not everyone was allowed into the meeting.

Homeowners and people who live in Korea Town were divided about the shelter going into their area.  The mayor’s A Bridge Home would put similar shelters in each of the city’s council districts.  Never mentioned at this meeting was what will happen to the thousands of people who do not make it into one of these shelters.

Since the mayor is also putting over $20 million into increased police enforcement and sanitation workers, the belief is that this plan will start criminalizing homelessness, even though there is nowhere for the thousands left out of A Bridge Home to go.

LA CAN has started a petition for a forensic audit of how the HHH money is being spent.  The fear is that some of the money designed to be used only for permanent housing is being used for other things such as increased sweeps.

The mayor and city council members owe it to the people of Los Angeles and especially the homeless, to tell their plans for the thousands left out of the mayor’s plan.  We should also be asking why the shelters are only scheduled to exist for 3 years.  With the price of housing, how can they expect homelessness to go away in a period of 3 years?

A Bridge Home seems very unrealistic given the number of homeless and the price of housing in the area.  It is time we hold city council accountable and demand answers.

First Baptist Church Wins More Time

Last night at the City of Los Angeles Planning Department meeting supporters of First Baptist Church of Venice gathered to appeal a change of use from church to personal residence.  The owner of Rolling Stone Magazine Jay Penske and his wife Elaine purchased the property with the intent of turning it into their personal residence.  Several issues such as the legality of the sale and a pending historical status have citizens of Venice outraged at the proposed new use.

First Baptist Church is located in the Oakwood neighborhood of Venice at 7th & Westminster.  The original church was built by African American architect Henry Williams, Sr in 1911.  It is the oldest African American church in the Venice area.  The building that stands on the property today was built in 1971.

At the heart of the dispute is the sale of the property by the pastor of the church Horace Allen and whether he had the right to sell the property which had been paid off at one time.  It was found that pastor Allen had taken loans out on the property and was eventually forced to sell to pay off the loans.  There is pending ligation on this issue

Jay Penske and his wife Elaine were present at the hearing on the change of use of the property.  A spokesperson for the couple called the current site, “A spot for dumping old mattresses and termites.”  Mrs. Penske spoke and told the commissioners she did some community outreach.  A resident declared that she spoke to one of the people sent to do community outreach who did not know the property in question was a church.

Supporters of the church argued that the property is a sacred space and culturally meaningful to African Americans in the area.  The preservation of the Jewish Synagogue Mishkon Tephilo was mentioned as an example of a religious space being declared a symbol of the Jewish faith.

Below Jay Penske looks on as opponents of the project speak.


The project was approved by the Venice Neighborhood Council.  Supporters of First Baptist Church are upset that the architect of the project is on the council and was included in the vote.

At the end of the meeting, the commissioners debated the pertinent issues such as the fact that the Penske’s obtained title insurance on the property from Chicago Title Company, the proposed residence would be 11,000 square feet and would not be in line with the other residences located in that area, and the historical status of the church is still being decided.  The commissioners voted on the appeal and the result was a tie.  The final decision was postponed until August 15, 2018 when an additional commissioner will be available to vote on the issue.