LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The homeless population and their belongings have Venice residents and business owners angry at the lack of police presence at the Venice Boardwalk and Venice Beach Recreation Area.

A letter sent by the nonprofit Venice Stakeholders Association accuses the city of policing the recently re-opened City Hall Park and the green space at the Police Administration Building downtown better than the illegal camping on Venice Beach.

“It doesn’t seem fair that a city campus downtown with no residents gets absolute first-class treatment, and yet a couple thousand residents and business owners who are really impacted by homelessness don’t get the same kind of treatment,” Association President Mark Ryavec said.

The city re-opened the City Hall Park last month, after enacting a new ban on tents and tighter restrictions on the use of sleeping bags.

In the letter, which was sent to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Councilman Bill Rosendahl, City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck and other city officials, attorney John Henning Jr. wrote that the alleged unequal treatment has turned the Venice Beach Recreation Area into an area akin to Skid Row.

“In fact, the city’s failure to enforce existing laws within the (Venice Beach Recreation Area) has encouraged the establishment of an extreme public nuisance which has fostered crime and assaults, subjected residents and visitors to constant danger, and driven tourists to flee for other, safer beach venues,” Henning wrote.

A spokesman for Villaraigosa said the mayor had not yet received the letter. Rosendahl, who is on leave for treatment of a newly diagnosed cancer, ordered the letter forwarded to the City Attorney’s Office for review, according to Rosendahl’s chief of staff, Mike Bonin.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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