We’ve all seen it countless times. Will Rogers State Beach. It has been the home to numerous (too many to count) movies, television, and commercials. Many film students have used the pristine and magical coastline as the backdrop to whatever they would be creating. Heck, there have also been countless sexy photo shoots taken at that particular state beach. These things are now in jeopardy of no longer happening due to an issue with California homeless people.
There is a scorching hot controversy boiling over on the Westside of Los Angeles. City council member Mike Bonin has come up with a plan to help solve the California homeless issue by proposing the city build temporary housing for the homeless in one of the Will Rogers State Beach parking lots.
Before the COVID pandemic completely shut down Hollywood and its filmmakers, Will Rogers State Beach was a hotbed of activity. Producers love the area as it represents what the bulk of America imagines the entire Southern California coastline to look like. Amazingly clean sand to go along with the long ocean breakers. The area is lined with palm trees, a staple of Los Angeles living. And, the beach, which is only a mile and three quarters in length, offers plenty of parking, which Bonin wishes to tap into.
For the time being, nothing has been settled with Bonin’s proposal. The California homeless housing, which he is saying would be temporary, is needed so the city can offer the homeless controlled, safe spaces to live. The uproar concerning Bonin’s proposal is why should their safe space be the areas prettiest and most popular?
Will Rogers State Beach has a list of prohibitions located at every lifeguard station. They include no camping, no drinking, no dogs, and no fires. Obviously, if a California homeless shelter were to be erected in one of its parking lots, those prohibitions would have to go away.
Going away too would be Hollywood. The limited security along the beach would be even more taxed, trying to maintain the California homeless population. What about the sanitary concerns of that area? There is a tunnel that runs from the beach, under the highway, that provides beachcombers the only access to locally available groceries and alcohol. Just what would that tunnel look like with a homeless shelter perched above it?
Under Bonin’s proposed plan, it wouldn’t only be Will Rogers State Beach to house the California homeless. His proposal includes similar camps at a half-dozen non-beach sites which include parks and even land that is owned by the Los Angeles International Airport.
Bonin stated that his efforts have already helped the California homeless through permanent housing via hotel rooms through Project Roomkey, bridge housing, safe parking locations as well as safe camping spots. But, he says, it’s not enough. More needs to be done. “Despite those projects, homelessness across Southern California, Los Angeles, and the 11th District continues to increase, and much more must be done,” Bonin said via the Santa Monica Daily Press. “Different interventions must be tried, and more locations must be identified.”
But to many, the beachfront is taking it too far. Judi Jensen is a 50-year resident of Santa Monica Canyon and says her neighborhood has been very successful in its grassroots efforts to help reduce the California homeless issue. Just don’t mention Bonin’s name.
“The name Bonin has become a dirty word in our neighborhood,” she told SMDP. “We all think he has lost his mind, we know there are better ways to solve the homeless problem than putting them in the parking lot at the beach.”
They have even started a Change.org petition to oppose Bonin’s parking lot plan, claiming that temporary housing there wouldn’t solve the California homeless problem and it would also bring the drug element as well as mental illness, crime, and danger to their community.
You have to give credit to Bonin and those who support him and his proposal. Answers for the California homeless problem aren’t easy to come by and it is apparent that thinking outside the box will be necessary. Concerns on both sides of the equation are real and both sides make fair points.
This is a problem, though, that won’t go away. Across our nation, even before COVID, the numbers of homeless were increasing on a large scale. Now, it seems that those numbers pale in comparison to what we are seeing today. Big cities are crippled with the homeless with drug use and mental illness becoming the norm of the streets.
Bonin’s proposal may not take hold along Will Rogers State Beach, but it is apparent and commendable that he will continue to search for answers. We all need to.