[This story originally appeared in the newsletter of the Miracle Mile Residential Association on Monday, August 2. In addition to giving readers an update on the situation at La Brea and Orange Drive, we thought it provided a good look at the issues and complexities involved in our local homeless encampments, helping unhoused residents in the camps, how neighbors can come together to seek solutions, and the many different stakeholders involved in each of these situations. Author Kari Garcia is an MMRA board member and newsletter editor for the organization. The story is reprinted with her permission.]
by Kari Garcia
Miracle Mile residents voiced concern over the growing encampment located at South Orange at La Brea. The encampment is believed to have one occupant and takes up about the width of a single-family lot. There is no visible tent but rather a significant accumulation of items that are added daily.
Residents have emailed the MMRA Neighborhood Watch via our block captain system and requested assistance as there has been an increasing quality of life issue for the local residents. Issues including challenges to navigate children to school around the site, violation of the ADA rule of 36″ to pass on the sidewalk, urine, feces, and cockroaches at the site have posed a safety problem. Additionally, the businesses of Perfection Wash and Fold (1101 South La Brea) and Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore (1071 South La Brea) have both reported that the encampment is negatively affecting their business. Perfection Cleaners has had to reduce hours to ensure employee safety resulting in a loss of business due to this and from clientele not wanting to drop off laundry with the encampment only a few feet from their business door entry. Habitat for Humanity’s store manager, Rudy Trabianino, reports issues including loss of business, fighting and arguing heard at site, evidence of drug use by occupants who visit encampment, and increased crime (although he was not able to confirm who the perpetrator was) with a break-in the week before, during which pallets were stolen (reportedly pallets are often used for construction of a encampment site).
The MMRA has been corresponding with Council District 10 Mark Ridley Thomas’ field deputy, Mayra Guevara, who represents the southeastern portion of Miracle Mile (east of Cochran and south of Olympic) as well as LAPD Officer Anna Schube, and the local Neighborhood Prosecutor from the City Attorney’s office. Up to now, the current city ordinances have prevented any intervention other than LAPD responding to crime in progress or a violation of the ADA sidewalk clearance.
After months of email correspondence with no reduction in issues or size of encampment, MMRA requested a meeting at the encampment site and in late July met with CD10 Field Deputy Mayra Guevara, and the newly appointed Homeless Coordinator for CD10, Roger Estrada. The two businesses impacted by the encampment had an opportunity to voice their concerns.
The city ordinance proposed by the City Council for management of people experiencing homelessness had just passed the day before the meeting and was on its way to the Mayor’s desk. More information on the ordinance can be found here and here.
According to Estrada, the encampment will qualify for immediate action once the ordinance is in effect. Outreach services to offer resources and shelter for the occupant of the encampment have been requested several times by the MMRA, but with spotty response or tracking of outreach attempts. This will change, according to Mr. Estrada, who still encourages neighbors to place requests for service at la-hop.org via LAHSA as a means to enter individuals into the system to get service. However, the new ordinance (effective starting September) according to Estrada, will be more efficient, have better tracking, and will also allow for more outreach teams in each council district. With that said, Estrada also said this particular encampment will likely take a ‘long time’ to reduce and will not disappear ‘overnight,’ as many attempts to aide the occupant in reducing his extensive encampment will need to happen before an infraction would be placed after a certain period of months of assisting the individual.
Miracle Mile Neighborhood Watch is appreciative of our neighbors who take steps to ensure the safety of their blocks and encourages all neighbors to organize their blocks, report bulky item removal at https://www.lacity.org/myla311 and be active participants in our Neighborhood Watch program.
For more information and resources, contact:
CD10 Field Deputy Mayra Guevara – [email protected]
CD10 Homeless Coordinator Roger Estrada – [email protected]
For more resources and information on how to help people experiencing homelessness, check out our MMRA Resources.
Editor’s postscript: In a phone call with the Buzz this morning, Garcia said the neighborhood association got involved with this issue because “the negative effects were apparent and nobody knew what to do.” But she said that bringing the various stakeholders together was an important first step in finding a solution. “People have to work together and be organized,” Garcia said, and instead of just driving by, “we have to lean in and find out who’s in the encampment” to be able to help them. “Everyone should embrace their neighborhood and learn as much about it as they can,” she said, and that includes complex situations such as this one.