Check out Carl’s article, “Locals Concerned Over Riverbed Encampment,” Originally Published in the Los Feliz Ledger.
ATWATER VILLAGE—As Orange County officials have been removing a three-mile encampment along the Santa Ana River, where an estimated 500 to 1,000 had taken shelter, similar encampments along the Los Angeles River—though much smaller in size—now pose a health and safety risk to the community, according to some residents who have voiced concerns to local officials.
The area already has the attention of Los Angeles City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell who said he has been working with a newly formed coalition called the “L.A. River Hope Team,” made up of police, sanitation and homeless service providers to help the situation.
Additionally a spokesperson for the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority said that organization has also recently placed additional homeless service providers in the area, which should take root soon.
For some, the help cannot come soon enough.
Locals estimate that dozens are now living in tents under the Fletcher Drive overpass and scattered along the area’s concrete riverbed.
In a January letter to O’Farrell, the Atwater Village Neighborhood Council indicated that residents now “feel unsafe along the Atwater Village stretch of the Los Angeles River.”
The letter called on O’Farrell, the Los Angeles Police Dept. (LAPD), the Los Angeles County Sherriff’s Dept. and the Dept. of Recreation and Park Rangers to help find solutions that “balance the safety of both the housed and homeless.”
One Atwater Village resident, Paul Martin, said he no longer feels safe riding his bike along the river due to the encampments.
“Someone threw a bottle at me. Another time someone spit at me and threw a can at me. It’s pretty hairy,” he said. “These guys don’t have anywhere else to go … It’s hard to get angry at them, so you get angry at the city. It’s such a wealthy city and they don’t seem to do anything. There’s got to be a better solution.”