A 'catastrophic' increase in homelessness in Los Angeles has seen hundreds of tents line the beach's famous boardwalk.
Business owners say they are being forced to close their doors and longterm residents are afraid to leave their homes after dark after being subjected to violent attacks and intimidation.
Recent incidents - including a shooting on April 28 and an explosion at a homeless encampment - have left residents and business owners shaken.
Fed-up locals have written to city and county officials pleading for them to intervene.
The world-famous alternative beach community, 16 miles from downtown Los Angeles, has traditionally been a major tourism drawcard for the Californian city.
However, now the palm trees and promenade are blighted by hundreds of tents. The accompanying anti-social behavior has unsettled longterm business owners.
Hairdresser Kevin Buttress, 32, who has owner the Xquisite Barber Lounge for five years, said he had suffered two violent attacks in recent months.
He told Fox News he was attacked in November by a pit bull owned by a homeless person and was knocked unconscious with a skateboard.
'I've given a lot of myself to the community of Venice Beach,' Buttress said. 'And to see everything just fall to pieces, it's messed up,' he told Fox.
Buttress said the suspect in his attack was arrested and released days later amid efforts by Los Angeles County to cut the number of jail inmates over concerns about the spread of COVID-19.
Hundreds of residents have put their signatures to a letter pleading for help from city and county officials.
'Venice's world famous beach and boardwalk are crippled,' it says.
'Local children are refusing to come to the beach because they're frightened by what they've witnessed. Seniors who live on or near the boardwalk are terrified of walking in their own neighborhoods.'
Venice Neighborhood Council member Soledad Ursua said the homeless encampments had exploded during the COVID-19 lockdowns.
She said residents were afraid to be out after dark, and there were fights several times a day and shootings and stabbings on a weekly basis.
'It's just a very dangerous time to be a Venice resident right now,' she said.
Earlier this year, Klaus Moeller, the co-owner of Ben & Jerry's at Venice Beach, said he was closing his ice cream store after a huge increase in crime and homeless camps during the pandemic.
A report released earlier this year by the University of California in Los Angeles found homeless rates had increased by 50% in five years.
It found the economic fallout of the pandemic has left many more low-income residents on the brink of housing insecurity.
Official figures suggest there are about 15,000 chronically homeless people in L.A. County.
When 'couch surfers' and others who bounce in and out of homelessness, are included, that figure balloons to 66,000.
Dan Flaming, president of the Economic Roundtable, has projected that figure will nearly double in the next four years.
'That would be catastrophic for us,' Flaming told ABC7 in January.
According to figures from the Los Angeles Police Department provided to the Venice Neighborhood Council, the violent robberies in the neighborhood are up 177% from last year.
The same period has also seen a 162% increase in cases of assault with a deadly weapon involving a homeless person.
Videos depicting fires, fights, and harassment are a common sight on social media.
One such video shows a person showing an unidentified person hurling a homemade Molotov cocktail into a tent shortly before it bursts into flames.
And the death of a pet dog named Togo who was killed in a house fire has also been blamed on homeless people in the area.
The pet had become 'the latest victim of Venice's continued degeneration when a transient threw an accelerant into his home, burning him alive,' according to a tribute.
LA city leaders say the solution to the chronic homelessness issues is freeing up more public housing.
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