Los Angeles Councilman Says Efforts to Combat City’s Homelessness Crisis Are Not Working

Residents and business owners have taken to social media, and in some cases, submitted petitions and organized protests to demand that city leaders enforce existing city policies that are aimed at removing illegally erected encampments, and hauling away large vehicles that are improperly parked on city streets. (AP File Photo/Richard Vogel)
Residents and business owners have taken to social media, and in some cases, submitted petitions and organized protests to demand that city leaders enforce existing city policies that are aimed at removing illegally erected encampments, and hauling away large vehicles that are improperly parked on city streets. (AP File Photo/Richard Vogel)

Amid rising homelessness and mounting outcry from residents and business owners, a Los Angeles city councilman said Wednesday he wants to take a hard look at the way the city responds to the increasing presence of encampments and recreational vehicles.

“What we have isn’t working,” Councilman Mitchell Englander said.

In recent months, the issue of homelessness has become inescapable, with residents encountering more homelessness in their neighborhoods, according to the councilman, who represents the northwest San Fernando Valley.

“There’s not a conversation I have — whether it’s fixing a street, trimming a tree, walking to school or going to a grocery store — where we don’t talk about homelessness,” he said.

Out of Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino’s office: “Ditto,” said spokesman Branimir Kvartuc.

“We’re very, very conscious of it,” Kvartuc said. “It’s a battle every day.”

Englander also has been hearing concerns from city officials tasked with enforcing rules around encampments and recreational vehicles, he said.

San Pedro has battled similar issues, with encampments rooted around the community’s historic post office and waterfront overlook park, though Kvartuc points out that other parts of the city, such as Venice, have much bigger problems with homelessness.

Robert Nizich, an attorney with offices inside San Pedro’s main post office, sends out a round-robin email featuring daily photos of the sidewalk and park scene outside his office windows.

“The condition grows worse daily, and nothing is done to permanently solve the issue,” he wrote in a recent email. “New faces pop up just like their tents. Whack a mole does not work. A consistent and sustained effort on a daily basis is required.

His intent with the emails, which go out to city and business leaders every day, is to keep the issue front-and-center until authorities find a permanent solution to a situation he and others say is ruining the town.

“Basically, they occupy the street,” Nizich told the Daily Breeze in a January 2016 interview. “If they’re told to move, they move to the park (across the street), then back again — it’s an ebb and flow, like the ocean.”

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SOURCE: Donna Littlejohn and Elizabeth Chou
Los Angeles Daily News