Sun, 23 Dec 2012
PEOPLE vs BUSCH: Home-Made Porta-Potty On Third Ave Not A Crime
Posted: December 20, 2012
Twelve jurors, on Wednesday, Dec 19, after about 1 hour of deliberation –found David Busch’s home-made Porta-Potty for the homeless, which was torn down and destroyed by the LAPD last April –had been a lawful benefit to the Venice community.
Early this year, after pushing hundreds of homeless people and youth travelers off of Venice Beach’s Boardwalk from midnight until 5 am in the morning –and with no toilets available until nearly 8 am, Busch had been arrested by LAPD and charged with “creating and maintaining a public nuisance” (P.C. 372); for erecting a homemade Porta-Potty on Third Ave, near Rose; where up to 120 people, with no toilets, had begun attempting to find a safe shelter.
Starting with a tent for privacy, and after the City’s, own, unlawful, beach closure –Busch began collecting donations of soap, cleaning supplies and toiletries –and himself emptying and re-cleaning daily a bucket and a toilet seat lid for the Porta-Potty. The setup was in line with procedures outlined in Red Cross emergency manuals.
Maintaining the Porta-Potty necessitated hauling tightly sealed 5 gallons buckets –nearly four large city blocks to the nearest public toilets –and often two or three times a day.
In proving his innocence, Mr. Busch had to demonstrate that the utility of his conduct outweighed any offense to the larger community.
Additionally, Busch also was charged with violating LAMC 56.11: “Leaving property on a public sidewalk or street:”
For having, also, thereafter on Third Ave., a shopping-cart sized wheeled box –which he called his “Love Box.”
After an six additional hours of deliberation, and after three requests to the Judge, for the court to clarify the law and testimony –regarding the vague charge, which were all denied, the jury, in response, returned it’s verdict:
For violating LAMC 56.11.
LAMC 56.11 has been for several years constrained by a Federal Injunction –to prevent seizure of homeless people’s property that is merely left on the sidewalk, and not abandoned. In this case, the Judge did not allow a proposed jury instruction, that would have stated the charge must be balanced by all people’s 4th Amendment Right to Property.
During sentencing, for his un-abandoned Love Box on the sidewalk, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office demanded that Busch be entirely banished from Venice –for three years.
The Judge, instead, sentenced Busch to no probation, one day in jail, and time served.
Stated Busch at the end of the trial. “Today, after three days, and hours and hours of absurd testimony, presented by LAPD officers and City Hazardous Waste employees: absurd testimony from Officers that they never saw urination or defecation in Venice’s streets, or gutters, or alley’s; testimony that feces –contained in a bucket and later dumped down the toilet, was a greater threat to the watershed than the more than 60 lbs of feces and urine deposited in the streets, sidewalks and alleys –And all of which, supposedly, was meant to pick apart my own effort to keep the area clean –Venice’s Police Officers were given new, common-sense orders by their highest authority, the people:
12 jurors have instructed LAPD to open up their eyes –and recognize that even a homemade porta-potty by a homeless person is better than urination and defecation everywhere in Venice’s streets.
David Busch was represented by Defense Attorney John Raphling; who provided his services Pro-Bono, and is a member of the National Lawyers’ Guild.
City Responds to Busch Verdict
Sandy Cooney, communications director for Los Angeles City Attorney’s office, gave the following statement regarding the verdict in the People vs. David Busch trial:
“That Mr. Busch was not found guilty of the public nuisance charge does not give him the right to violate the law. The result on this count is no guarantee of a similar outcome should there be a second offense, which we certainly hope will not occur.”
NOTE FROM NORSE: And in the meantime, the message from the housed bureaucrats in Santa Cruz and Venice seems to be “hold your water and learn bowel control”.
Santa Cruz has no 24-hour bathrooms this side of hiway 1. And only one on the distant side–in the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center. The Clean Team activist Danilo T.J. Magallanes has called for public bathrooms, as it engaged in its dramatic and community-supported clean-up’s earlier this month. They brought needles to City Council but also had available lots of fecal and waste material collected because of inadequate city clean-up and facilities.
12 years ago the City’s own Homeless Issues Task Force called for 24-hour bathrooms. The city has done nothing–not even replaced the five portapotties that were in place for a few years around 2000 in response to activist demands.
Sign our petition – “Access To Toilets Is a Human Right” - make toilets available to homeless people – http://www.change.org/
Venice’s Own ‘Skid Rose’ Homeless Camp at 3rd Slowly Being Flushed by City Officials
|The LAPD busted well-known Venice homeless guy David Busch for setting up a toilet in his tent.|
Ever since the LAPD started enforcing a strict curfew along the Venice boardwalk, the homeless hangout on 3rd street (located a few blocks inland) has blossomed into a bona fied bum party. The stretch of 3rd where they sleep, between Sunset and Rose, is mostly populated by businesses and warehouses. But as the camp has grown, the sleeping bags and shopping carts have begun creeping out onto residential sidewalks…
… and freaking out the gentry who live in the expensive, highly coveted homes along iconic Rose Avenue.
Thus earning this transplant boardwalk the name “Skid Rose.”
And for the moment, there’s nothing anybody can do about it, announced L.A. City Councilman Bill Rosendahl on his blog yesterday (after the LA Weekly repeatedly asked for an interview on the subject for about a week).
“Due to two court cases … the City’s ability to enforce its laws has been significantly restricted,” writes Rosendahl. The gist: Until 1,250 housing units are built for homeless folks in L.A., they’re allowed to sleep on the sidewalk. The L.A. Housing Department informs Rosendahl that the city is still “several hundred” units short.
But cops and politicians are apparently circumventing those legal ramifications by nabbing the homeless at 3rd and Rose for other crimes.
Namely, resting or storing their possessions on the sidewalk between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 p.m., which is still illegal, says LAPD Lieutenant Paola Kreeft. Other drifters have been busted for drugs, violence, breaking into cars, etc.
Rosendahl begs residents to have a little compassion:
“The question should not be: should we allow people to sleep on the streets? The question must be: how do we provide people housing, services, and shelter so no one has cause to sleep on the street?”
But a big problem with the Venice “homeless” population is that many are free spirits by choice, and would never choose a shelter over the sea breeze. Homeless man and activist David Busch, pictured above with his in-tent toilet, told us recently that he felt the city was unfairly “lumping street vendors, hippies and beach travelers” into the same category as Venice’s long-standing homeless population. Perhaps, he speculated, so that cops can uniformly kick them all out — and the neighborhood can complete its transition to gentrified tourist trap.
Mark Ryavec, the fierce anti-homeless advocate who runs the Venice Stakeholders Association (and who recently posted his adversaries’ home addresses online, causing a community flamewar), says that a brigade of city officials descended upon the encampment last Friday.
The team included LAPD cops on horses, bio-hazard guys from the Department of Public Works and representatives from L.A. City Hall — including Public Works commissioner Andrea Alarcon, royal offspring of City Councilman Richard Alarcon. Also present was the mayor’s Westside deputy, Joseph Hari.
And Venice resident Reta Moser has the photos to prove it:
|“Howard Wong of Bureau of Sanitation (center) and his helper test and remove buckets as Andrea Alarcon films and watches.”|
|“Officer Gil discusses situation with [homeless advocate] Peggy Lee Kennedy as officer and Joseph Hari look on.”|
Ryavec of the Stakeholder’s Association says the mayor’s apparent new interest in clearing Skid Rose may have to do with a little run-in they had recently at a swanky restaurant on Melrose. A few highlights from the ensuing conversation, via Ryavec’s blog:
“When I told him that I wanted to talk with him about the problems we are having with transient encampments in Venice, he interrupted me and said the real problem was that the council district ‘has no leadership.’ Then he made another derogatory remark about Bill Rosendahl.”
“Then he said, ‘But if you want me involved, I will get involved. You may not like my solution, but you will get a solution. Did you hear me today [referring to his successes with transportation improvements]? I get things done.’”
“I’ll leave you with the Mayor’s parting comments at Mozza: ‘You know, when I leave office, I’m going to move to either Venice or the Pacific Palisades, so I have a personal interest in helping you with this.’”
Ryavec tells the Weekly that since last Friday, when the encampment at 3rd was scrubbed of its dirt and its drifters, “a few of them have come back.” However, he says city officials have promised to “come back this Friday and the week after that, until [homeless people] get the message that this is not a campground.”
Rosendahl confirms: “Further clean-ups will happen, and on a regular basis.”
Meanwhile, the real Skid Row, where the mayor certainly never intends to live out his golden years, is clogging up with more transients and trash bags than ever before, the LAPD tells Blogdowntown. Looks like one grimy stretch of downtown L.A. might be the official dumping ground for riff-raff scraped off the city’s finer sidewalks.
Venice Beach has been getting a lot of cross-press with Skid Row recently with a homeless encampment that has sprung up along 3rd and Rose Streets. I have been following this story in the press, click here for some info in this. In recent weeks, dozens of homeless people have been sleeping in this area after the city began enforcing an overnight curfew on the Venice Boardwalk.
This area is now being called, “Skid Row West”, or “Skid Rose”, (because of the Rose Street location). Unfortunately, the City of Los Angeles has yet to find real solutions or build enough housing for the homeless population of this fine City, so people continue to be just pushed around from one place to the next. Some say the people on the streets are merely “housing resistant”, others acknowledge that the majority on the streets now are either mentally ill or serious substance abusers or both (which is my opinion). Whichever the case may be- Los Angeles has no real solutions for the thousands of people on her streets nightly- unlike other large metropolises across America which have made great strides in getting vulnerable people off the streets. Click here to read a great article by Steve Clare who is executive director of the Venice Community Housing Corporation, a nonprofit housing and community development organization serving the Westside of Los Angeles about real workable solutions for the homeless of LA.
In reading about this situation in Venice here, I couldn’t help but notice a glaring disparity in the way the City is cleaning up around the encampments over there on the Westside- as opposed to over here in the real Skid Row. According to the LA Weekly article linked to above called, Venice’s Own ‘Skid Rose’ Homeless Camp at 3rd Slowly Being Flushed by City Officials, by Simone Wilson Thus., May 3 2012,
…The team included LAPD cops on horses, bio-hazard guys from the Department of Public Works and representatives from L.A. City Hall — including Public Works commissioner Andrea Alarcon, royal offspring of City Councilman Richard Alarcon. Also present was the mayor’s Westside deputy, Joseph Hari.
…Rosendahl confirms: “Further clean-ups will happen, and on a regular basis.”
Where are the bio-hazard guys for the REAL Skid Row? We have a serious, entrenched and consistent need for out streets to be power-washed of human waste in the form of urine, feces and vomit that NEVER get cleaned. I will be looking into getting over here whatever they get over there- we are ALL City of LA. I have never heard of the LA Department of Public Works doing any clean-up for Skid Row.
Great strides have been made recently with Operation Face-Lift/Skid Row 2012, which began in 2008 by actual community residents of Skid Row (watch video here), click here for more information about the 2012 re-energized movement. We have gotten the attention of the City, so that now Street Services- click here for the update- and the Bureau of Sanitation, click here for the 411 on this- have gotten on board with help for our garbage laden streets. But the need is still great, as is our lack of trash receptacles. I’m not sure what is going on over in Venice- but to be clear- Operation Face-Lift is interested primarily in connecting with the people on the streets and getting their involvement and participation in the community-at-large- NOT pushing them away to some other place out of sight, out of mind.
Curious about what all the fuss is over on the Westside- I took a drive over to “Skid Rose” on Friday at about 6pm. What I saw was…not much at all. A few, maybe 3 or 4 bags of what looked like people’s personal belongings, one loveseat, one tent and a couple of gentlemen with shopping carts. I saw no garbage on the streets, no piles of trash anywhere. Frankly, I am confused and slightly angry at all the attention given to this so-called encampment when the needs in our downtown streets far outweigh anything over in Venice- at least from what I personally witnessed on this day. Maybe someone can explain the difference in services that the Westside gets as compared to my neighborhood, the REAL Skid Row.
Venice Homeless File Damage Claims Against L.A.
A March street cleanup in Venice in which homeless people had their belongings trashed prompted a Santa Monica civil rights attorney to file damage claims against the city of Los Angeles.
Santa Monica-based civil rights attorney Carol Sobel said Friday that she filed the damage claims, which is often a precursor to a lawsuit.
The trash haul March 7 took place on 3rd Avenue between Rose and Sunset avenues and was done by the Los Angeles City Bureau of Sanitation, which is part of the city’s Department of Public Works. Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl at the time said the cleanup occurred following many complaints about public urination, defecation, blocked sideways and trash in the street.
A handful of homeless people were allowed to rummage through heaps of garbage the day after the cleanup to search for their personal belongings in a city sanitation yard. David Busch, a homeless activist, pulled his laptop from the trash heap as well as several art pieces. A homeless couple found food, money and clothes among the mounds of trash.
Many of the homeless who lost belongings couldn’t make it to the sanitation yard and had lost money, medication and legal papers, Busch said.
Rosendahl said afterward that he would make it a policy going forward to give the homeless a courtesy notice before cleanups. He later told the Venice Chamber of Commerce during a luncheon that 3rd Avenue would be cleaned up on a weekly basis.
Busch, who sleeps on 3rd Avenue, said a cleanup Thursday morning was met by homeless people who stayed next to their property to prevent it from being thrown away. They were joined by Occupy Venice, Sobel and members of the National Lawyers Guild, who helped tag and guard belongings.
The garbage trucks left after Rosendahl intervened, Busch said.
The homeless in Venice recently have been impacted by a series of developments, including: the recent ban on overnight camping along the Venice Beach boardwalk, limitations on overnight parking for large vehicles and a program to transition vehicle dwellers into housing.
COMMENTS FROM VENICE:
12:07 pm on Thursday, April 5, 2012
Guess who has to clean up? We installed a sensor light and the frequency reduced, especially treating our place like a toilet. Every now and then, I still have to remove empty food cartons, old clothing (yes, even underwear) and belonging. Who wants their home to smell like a toilet or look like a dump?
I understand the activists came from a compassionate ground. But they are too close to the forest to see the trees. The money that went into legal suits would be better served for the entire community if it went to solutions to solve the homeless situation and assist homeowners with the cleaning costs. Enough fighting. Start looking for solutions instead!
Deborah Lashever (in response)
8:34 pm on Friday, June 15, 2012
Please do not blame people who have no resources for oversights the city makes! Complain to the city that it needs to serve all of it’s community members better rather than disrespect the unHoused for having no options. Thank you.
4:05 pm on Friday, April 6, 2012
8:42 pm on Friday, June 15, 2012
If you just “make noise” people get abused and the situation stays the same….
And while some people may have a fear of the UnHoused, some people also fear “blacks” and “mexicans”. Should we as a society, indulge their irrational fears, too? Which Constitutional rights are we ALL willing to sacrifice to assuage the unfounded fears of small number of people.
I have walked and biked down on 3rd street at all hours of the day and night – and have never had any problems, for the most part these folks seem like they just want to be left alone (as we Housed folks have the freedom to be, whenever we like).
And it should be noted, that while there MAY be some increase in the numbers on 3rd, since the police declared the OFW to be a “park” – all of a sudden, there have always been people down there sleeping at night.
Now there are two new (gigantic) HID lamps (I suppose we’re lucky on the “drug” front that no one is exercising their state right to grow ‘medicine’ under those, BTW) new LED street lights, and a 24/7 camera. If anything, that may be the safest street in “the ‘hood”, where you’ve decided to place your business.
(Very Interesting Follow-Up Discussion at http://venice.patch.com/
NOTE FROM NORSE: If Venice can expose the bigotry and bullshit, with some energetic media response (even on the comment sections) and some street theater (long live David Busch and Peggy Lee Kennedy!) and some attorney muscle (lawsuits for destruction of homeless property are an obvious need), why can’t we do that here?