VENICE, Calif. -- Homeless advocates staged a protest at Windward Circle Monday, claiming a so-called beautification project was really a ruse to brush encampments from a gentrifying area.
Dozens of planter boxes have been installed around Venice since the summer. The nonprofit group behind them grows vegetables and other plants in the middle of sidewalks.
"The planter boxes that have been installed around Venice -- there's 56 just in this block alone around the Post Office -- they're installed under the guise of beautification, but we know that they're here to displace unhoused residents from camping," says Adam Smith, the organizer of the protest.
Demonstrators held signs that said "Housing not Planters" and "Stop Displacing Humans."
Opponents of the planter boxes further argue that the miniature flower beds do not have a permit to be in sidewalks.
A spokesman for Councilman Mike Bonin, who represents the area, said he was not aware of any city department's involvement in the placing of the planter boxes.
A group called Community Healing Gardens appears to be responsible for many, if not all, the boxes.
Several residents walking past the protest said they support the planter boxes and the impact on cleanliness in the neighborhood.
One of the supporters is a street cleaner in Venice.
"We get trash, we get clothing, we have bed bugs, we have fleas, we have everything under the sun," she says. "I am constantly cleaning up drug wrappers, crystal meth containers, weed pipes, syringes."