By Clark Brown, elected member of the Board of the Venice Neighborhood Council and Community Officer
The City of Los Angeles periodically carries out “comprehensive cleanups” of homeless encampments in residential neighborhoods. The City’s recent comprehensive clean up on Flower Avenue in Venice’s Oakwood neighborhood demonstrates these cleanups provide only limited benefits for the neighborhoods where they are carried out.
On Monday November 28 around 9:30 am the Los Angeles Department of Sanitation (“LADS”) started a “comprehensive cleanup” of the homeless encampment on Flower Avenue at its southwest corner with Lincoln Blvd. The LADS brought a rear loader garbage truck, a skip loader, a flat bed truck, several pickup trucks and workers in Hasmet suits. 2 LAPD officers, a LAPD cruiser and a LADS security guard provided security. (See the photo above)
The homeless people piled their stuff on bikes and strollers and pushed it all around the corner on Lincoln before the City could load it into its trucks (See the photos below). Then the LADS and the LAPD left.
By 3pm the same day the homeless people moved all their tents and other things back to Flower Avenue where they now cover the parkway and sidewalk just as they had before. No LADS or LAPD people were around. (See the feature image for this article) A comparison of Photos 1 and 4 show the tents and shelters that were on Flower before the clean up are there now.
The Flower homeless encampment has been there many years despite countless “comprehensive cleanups.” During these years the Flower residents have repeatedly complained to the City about trash, noise, prostitution, drug dealing, public defecation, trespass onto their properties and theft from their yards all committed by the people from the encampment. A person from the encampment recently died on Flower Avenue apparently from a drug overdose. Last month a house, which homeless persons had occupied without the owner’s permission, was destroyed by fire. 5 properties on Flower within the block where the encampment is located are currently for sale or for rent because the owners have moved.
The only viable solution to the Flower encampment and the other encampments on the Westside is to establish sites for safe camping and tiny homes where the homeless can be relocated and serviced. Hope of the Valley, a charitable organization, in cooperation with the City Administrative Officer has developed and managed six tiny home villages in the San Fernando Valley which have provided almost 900 beds for the homeless. Such sites also should be developed on the Westside. Fortunately, there are sites around LAX where safe camping and tiny homes can be quickly developed and built.
The City needs to develop and build these sites because its “comprehensive cleanups” do not cure the problems the encampments inflict on the people who live in them and those who make their homes nearby.