One of LA's most notorious homeless encampments cleared under 405 Freeway

Josh Haskell Image
Wednesday, October 25, 2023
One of LA's most notorious homeless encampments cleared in Mar Vista
For roughly 10 years, tents have lined Venice Boulevard under the 405 Freeway in Mar Vista. The encampment was cleared Tuesday.

MAR VISTA, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- For roughly 10 years, tents have lined Venice Boulevard under the 405 Freeway in Mar Vista.

"I don't believe anybody wants to actually live here you know," said Kamil, who has lived here for a few years.

As the homeless crisis has expanded, so has this encampment, which has been the scene of shootings, drug deals, overdose deaths, fires - all impacting the surrounding neighborhood including Exclusive Motors owned by George Frem.

"We changed the narrative from saying, this used to be something that is OK and today, everybody is saying this is not OK. I'm not worried about me. I'm happy about people are going to stop dying on the streets, and families are going to be reunited," said Frem.

Homeless encampment near middle school in Koreatown cleared out as part of LA's Inside Safe program

A homeless encampment near a middle school in a Koreatown neighborhood was cleared out Wednesday as part of Mayor Karen Bass' Inside Safe Program.

"There's nobody else to blame. I'm in this situation because of myself. But, I feel better because now I have some support. Some help. Right now, I just feel ecstatic. We're going to a better place," said Kamil.

One of the reasons why this encampment has been so challenging to clear is that one side of Venice Boulevard is in the city of Los Angeles, split between two council districts, and the other side is Culver City.

The encampment was cleared Tuesday as part of a large-scale Inside Safe operation. An estimated 50 people were housed.

L.A. City Councilwoman Katy Yaroslavsky told Eyewitness News the individuals who were living there were moved to a hotel with wrap-around services and housing navigation support.

"So that they're there and then they move on to some place that's a better fit, more long-term," she added. "Whether that's permanent supportive housing - maybe they just need to be paired. There's a man I was talking to who had a Section 8 voucher and it expired."

LA County houses homeless, clears encampments in East Gardena - epicenter of RV homelessness

It's become the so-called Skid Row for RV homelessness in L.A. County. Now some of the unhoused living in the area were moved to temporary shelter, and the RVs were towed away.

As is the case at every Inside Safe operation, there's uncertainty about where the buses will go and if the interim housing facility that's nearby will be the right fit.

"Gotta see first, get there first, then I can ask that question... It might be good... If I like it, I'll be there. If I don't, I'm out of there," said Walter Hamilton, another resident of the encampment as he boarded the bus to interim housing.

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said she's confident the Mar Vista encampment won't return.

"This encampment that has been problematic for years is going to be gone and it will not come back. I'm just sorry that it took so long, but it had the complexity that some of the other encampments don't," said Bass.

Yaroslavsky said some of the reasons why the encampment was there for so long is the lack of political will and, at the end of the day, the beds and services necessary.

"We have to put the beds in every council district, in every city. It's good that Culver City has this Homekey Project. We need other neighboring cities to also build the housing in their own city. It can't just be the city of L.A. building these," said Yaroslavsky.