• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

'ABC7 Listens' visits Venice Beach

March 24, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
ABC7 Listens -- That's the mission of the station's leaders as they travel around KABC's viewing area, hearing what community members have to say. Wednesday night they were in Venice. Housing was the big issue on the table.

More than a 100 Venice residents packed into the Boys and Girls Club of Venice on Lincoln Avenue, where the conversation turned almost immediately to housing, specifically the large homeless population in the Venice Beach area.

"It's criminal that many people have to live in their cars and don't have adequate housing," said Venice Beach resident Jim Smith.

"When you have a lot of people living illegally in the streets, camping in our streets, it just brings a lot of problems," said Venice resident Erin Mathis.

For more than three hours residents had a direct line of communication to ABC7's top management in another of a series of ABC7 Listens community meetings.

"There is a criminal transient population that has invaded Venice," said local resident Steven Gatto.

"Nine years ago, my life was saved by a homeless person," said Coleen Saro, a resident of Venice Beach. "He saved me from some gang members."

While much of the conversation Wednesday night focused on the homeless population in Venice, there were other topics of concern. Specifically, how ABC7 covers the news.

"We don't need eyewitnesses. We've got a lot of eyewitnesses," said Venice resident Chris Plourde. "Every kid on YouTube has a camera that can put it in somebody's face."

"The reason we have meetings just like this every six weeks is because we do want the perspective, we do want to hear what you have to say," said ABC7 News Director Cheryl Fair.

For information on community meetings for your area, send an e-mail to abc7communitymeeting@abc.com