VAN NUYS (CBSLA) — A brand-new, $1.3 million paving machine meant to fix the broken streets of Los Angeles is so rarely used that a homeless man is living underneath it.
The machine is called a cold recycler. It chews up and crushes old asphalt layers, then binds them with new material to instantly create a new road surface.
CBS2 obtained a city purchase order that shows taxpayers shelled out over $1.3 million for the cold recycler. City logs show it went into service in June 2017, and saw 46 hours of use that year. The machine has only been used for five hours in all of 2018 so far.
It appears the city may be going to great lengths to hide the expensive machine. Tarps line the fence where it’s being stored on a lot in Van Nuys, and the only sign that it’s city-owned is a “No Trespassing” sign.
The fence is high enough that the expensive machine cannot be seen from the street. However, Stu Mundel flew Sky2 over the lot and captured images of the cold recycler sitting idle, and, shockingly, a person apparently living underneath it.
A city worker told CBS2 that he was unaware of anyone living on the lot, and claimed he’d turned nothing up during an inspection. However, CBS2 cameras discovered a large hole in the fence, and later that afternoon, Sky2 captured the homeless man crawling through it to join his belongings underneath the machine.
Political watchdog Jack Humphreville called the paver a waste of money.
“It’s the new toy of the day. We need to have this, and we need to do that, they put together a memo that justifies this, but all the assumptions are bogus,” Humphreville said. “You have to wonder what the hell is going on.”
When asked about the paving machine, Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti claimed the purchase would pay for itself within three to four years, even at the current rate of use. He says the machine is still being tested, and will reduce paving costs by about one-third once it’s put into full service.
The paving machine replaced an older model, but we found that one was only used four hours in the last two years it was in service. City officials said it was obsolete.