ECHO PARK (CBSLA) – City crews were conducting another cleanup Wednesday in Echo Park Lake following a similar effort last month which sparked protests from homeless campers who accused officials of conducting a sweep.
L.A. City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell said the cleanup by Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks crews was a regular maintenance day which had been previously scheduled, with notices placed all around the park.
All campers would be required to move their personal belongings outside the area while the maintenance was being done, O’Farrell said in a news release.
Along with cleanup crews, L.A. Homeless Services Authority staff would be on hand to provide outreach to the campers. LA Sanitation and Environment workers would also be there to “ensure safe passage on the sidewalk in the neighborhood surrounding the park,” O’Farrell wrote.
On Jan. 24, a scheduled cleanup turned into a confrontation between park rangers and campers who believed the city was trying to clear them out of the area.
Holding up signs that said, “Housing is a Human Right,” several people knelt down in front of park rangers chanting, “Services, not sweeps! Services, not sweeps!”
No arrests were made.
“All City parks must be kept clean, safe, and accessible for people of all ages and income levels,” said Councilmember O’Farrell said in a statement Tuesday. “People who are experiencing homelessness at Echo Park Lake will continue to be offered services while we work on securing temporary indoor shelter and ultimately permanent housing.”
Finding a solution to L.A.’s homeless crisis has taken on a new urgency as thousands more Angelenos are forced onto the streets due in part to a housing shortage and spiking rents. In 2019, the number of homeless people in the county was just under 59,000, a 12 percent increase from the prior year.
Last month, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors approved the installation of 30 trailers in South L.A. to provide temporary housing for homeless families.
In April 2018, Mayor Eric Garcetti introduced the “Bridge Home” program, a plan to put up about two dozen temporary homeless shelters. The shelters are designed to give people a safe place to stay until they can find permanent housing. Each is scheduled to remain in place for a period of three years. The first in the series opened in downtown L.A. The seventh such shelter, The Gardner Street Women’s Bridge Housing Center, opened in Hollywood. It involved re-purposing the former Hollywood library into a shelter that can house up to 30 women at a time.
In September, the Los Angeles City Parks Commission unanimously approved placing a bridge housing shelter on the southern end of Griffith Park in Los Feliz that would also house up to 100 people.
Meanwhile, a proposal last year from L.A. City Councilman Joe Buscaino would restrict where the homeless can sleep at night. It would restrict people from sleeping within 500 feet of schools, parks, daycare centers, homeless shelters, bicycle paths, tunnels, or bridges on school routes.