In the city’s latest cleanup effort in downtown Los Angeles, sanitation crews on Monday morning cleared a homeless encampment near City Hall.
Fliers announcing “major cleaning” were posted on poles on First Street, just blocks away from the Los Angeles police station recently fined for filthy conditions that union leaders said led to at least one officer contracting typhoid fever.
“This effort is designed to clean, improve and maintain a safe environment for the general public,” the posters read, directing those in the area to remove their belongings from sidewalks, alleys, parks and other public spaces. The city will collect property left behind and keep them for 90 days, during which the owners can retrieve them, the fliers said.
Just the previous week, the City Council voted for a revamped cleanup system described by Mayor Eric Garcetti as a less “reactive, case-by-case, complaint-driven model” that emphasized sensitive outreach to the homeless.
On Monday, workers with the city were seen speaking to individuals living on the street, telling them about their options.
One man who pushed a cart full of his belongings away from the area told KTLA that the homeless usually just move across the street during cleanups. This time, however, fliers were posted all over, forcing them to move an extra block or so, he said.
“It’s an embarrassment of course… Who wants to be seen like this?” said the man, who did not want to be named.
A woman living on the street conveyed her frustration over the city’s cleanup operation.
“They want this all cleaned out so it’s not an eyesore to them, nor a space sore so that the middle-middle and upper-middle-income people who might feel uncomfortable in my presence or the presence of other people who are houseless,” Janice Ross said. “But I’m a human being.”
Downtown L.A. resident Peter Divas expressed anger over the homelessness crisis in the region, where a recent count found the number of people without homes jumping to 12% despite more funding to combat the issue.
“This is disgraceful,” Divas said. “All these buildings going up. Hundreds of millions of dollars. And we can’t help the homeless? How stupid are we?”