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Device resembling explosive found outside site of future homeless shelter in Venice

A device that authorities say was made to look like an explosive was discovered Thursday night in Venice at the site of a future homeless shelter that has been a longstanding point of contention.

Los Angeles police responded to the site at Sunset Avenue and Main Street just before 6 p.m. The discovery prompted evacuation of nearby homes and streets for nearly five hours as the LAPD bomb squad inspected the item.

The LAPD could not confirm to The Times whether there was more than one device — described as being designed to look like an explosive. According to L.A. City Councilman Mike Bonin, who represents the area, three devices were found.

Plans to open a homeless shelter at the site were approved in December after an L.A. County Superior Court judge rejected a legal challenge to the project from residents who believed the site was too close to homes and schools. The Venice Stakeholders Assn. had sued, arguing that the shelter would be a “magnet” for homeless encampments and would diminish public safety.

Bonin said that if the discovery of the fake explosive was meant to slow progress on the housing project, “it failed.”

“This is an appalling incident perpetrated by a disturbed and cowardly person or persons,” he said. “It is unacceptable and inhumane for people to be living and dying in sidewalk encampments in our neighborhoods. It is imperative that we get people off the streets. We will not be intimidated, and we will not back down from providing solutions to our homelessness crisis.”

LAPD said an investigation was ongoing into who may have planted the false device.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at (877) 527-3247.

Times staff writer Emily Alpert Reyes contributed to this report.

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