Silver Lake town hall sheds light on neighborhood’s homeless problem

Homeless encampment near Silver Lake Boulevard and 101 Freeway | Connie Acosta

Homeless encampment near Silver Lake Boulevard and 101 Freeway | Connie Acosta


SILVER LAKE — City officials and homeless agency workers came together last week during a town hall meeting at a Silver Lake church to talk about how they are dealing with neighborhood’s homeless.

More than 60 persons attended the meeting, sponsored by the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council, that covered the widespread homeless situation The discussion included the legalities and steps involved in clean up encampments and sleeping on the sidewalks as well as services provided to the homeless.

Council District 13, which represents most of Silver Lake, receives daily phone calls and emails “from residents who are frustrated and challenged by the fact there is an encampment right next to them,” said Field Deputy Mary Rodriguez.

Every Wednesday, officials from Council District 13, the LA Conservation Corps, LAPD, and People Assisting The Homeless work to offer shelter assistance to the homeless and clean up encampments in the Silver Lake area, Rodriguez said.

‘We get Alvarado, Silver Lake, Vendome, Hoover, and Virgil,” said Rodriguez of the Silver Lake area streets where the homeless are concentrated.

Tent city on Hoover Street under the 101 Freeway | Connie Acosta

Tent city on Hoover Street under the 101 Freeway | Connie Acosta

Bladimir Campos from the Department of Sanitation explained the protocol for cleanups.

“When Sanitation receives authorization … we post a 72-hour notice prior to cleanup to ensure persons have enough time to collect belongings,” Campos said. “The cleanup starts at 8:30 a.m.”

Gonzalo Barriga, also with the Department of Sanitation, said that workers from Watershed Protection are involved to pick up hazardous wastes for public safety.

“Sometimes we find explosives, guns, or unexpected things,” said Campos.

Rodriguez with Council District 13 said her office has asked the Bureau of Street Lighting to install high-intensity lights to discourage encampments in the underpass where Silver Lake Boulevard crosses below Sunset Boulevard.

But homeless encampments in freeway underpasses are more challenging. “Caltrans [state highway agency] has jurisdiction of freeway underpasses, and it’s hard to coordinate with them,” Rodriguez said.

Mike Ross, and Gabrielle Taylor, neighborhood prosecutors from the City Attorney’s Office, work along police and homeless agency workers as they offered medical assistance and shelter to street people.

“We’ve seen the problem first-hand; we’ve been to the locations,”
Ross said. “Eighty percent of our phone calls are about the homeless situation. It’s not against the law to be homeless. That said, [it] doesn’t give them carte blanche to commit crimes.”

In addition, law enforcement must deal with the predators who target homeless encampments, Taylor said.

“We are concerned about homeless safety in the encampments,” Taylor said. “Mike and I will eventually prosecute them [predators].”

Recently the City Council approved spending $1.7 million on providing an additional 1,300 shelter beds this winter. But despite these special funds and ongoing efforts, the panelists conceded that the homeless issue won’t go away anytime soon.

“We don’t have enough affordable housing, shelter beds, and supportive housing,” said Nicholas Greif with Council District 4. “Until those things happen encampments will be formed.”


About 60 people attended the Silver Lake town hall on homelessness | Connie Acosta

About 60 people attended the Silver Lake town hall on homelessness | Connie Acosta

Connie Acosta  is a writer who resides in Echo Park

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  1. Pretty lame of Mary Rodriguez to try and pin the blame on Caltrans for failure to clear homeless encampments.

    The huge encampment under the 101 on Alvarado is blocking a CITY SIDEWALK. Its not state property.

    Google ‘caltrans homeless’ and you’ll see that Caltrans is aggressive about clearing encampments when local agencies ask them to. All the big encampments around here are on city property, not state.

    • The Alvarado 101 encampment is horrible. The trash that is generated and then dumped on either side of the areas out from underneath the underpass continues to grow and the city does very little about it. That one needs to be addressed ASAP. That’s CD13, why wasn’t it mentioned as an encampment on that office’s radar?

  2. It is definitely a complicated problem. That said, there is an issue of public safety and cleanliness with some of these encampments. The one on Silver Lake Blvd under Sunset seems to be growing daily.

  3. those people who loiter and commit petty crimes along silver lake and sunset blvds are a complete and total nuisance….round them up and ship them out!
    I am sick and tired of seeing these drug and alcohol addled creeps destroy my neighborhood.

  4. Increase taxes on the rich once and for all. If they can afford a $30,000,000 house in the hills and a $12,000,000 home down in Malibu, a $5,000,000 lodge in Aspen and fleets of race cars they can cough up a few million a year to build, staff and maintain some decent and respectable housing for the homeless.

  5. Sweeping the homeless under the rug, worked for the city while it was a throw rug. Now wall to wall is not big enough.

  6. I attended this meeting. The majority of the homeless who live under the Sunset Blvd bridge have refused to move despite being offered shelter/housing.

    Legally, they are not allowed to be setting up a permanent encampment. All “dwellings” must be taken down between the hours of 6am and 9pm. However, LAPD was at the meeting and they basically said that they can’t enforce this in any meaningful way.

    PATH continues to offer assistance but to no avail.

    I have been down to the encampment. It’s mostly young and middle-aged men drinking. There are beer bottles everywhere. Where do they get the money from? These are not economic “victims.” They are drugs-addicts and they do not want to work. I know that’s not a very “liberal” thing to say – but go down there and see for yourself.

    My wife was recently harassed by a homeless individual on Sunset: “You’re very pretty,” the man said. “I hope you don’t get raped.”

    Until the city actually enforces the vagrancy laws we will continue to have this problem.

    Write your councilman. Write the mayor. We have to keep the pressure on.

    Yes, the homeless have rights. But residents of the community have the right to live in an area that isn’t befouled by trash and people can go out without the fear of being harassed or attacked.

    • We tax paying citizens have rights and yes most of the “homeless” in our area refuse help and want to live on the street because they want to drink, do drugs and steal as they please… we have had more bicycle thefts in the area then ever before… go under the Sunset/Silver Lake bridge and see what there business is… bicycle parts… yes they have a business going under there… and they dont even sleep there they have family in the area and sleep at homes in the area… they just dump there crap under there and conduct business… disgusting

    • I used to work nearby the Sunset Bridge, and myself and other female employees would walk in groups back to our cars parked near or under the bridge after our work closed around 11pm or midnight. It is not safe to walk on that stretch of sidewalk alone at night.

  7. It’s real typical of a City department like the Bureau of Street Lighting not to have innovative and resourceful thinking.
    In addition, governmental agencies are notorious for not communicating or cooperating with each other.
    The idea of having high-intensity lights as a deterrent to the homeless setting up encampments is a good one. The brighter the light the better.
    I don’t know for a fact however, I’d say the conflict between Cal-Trans and the Bureau of Street Lighting involves attachments to the freeway underpass structure and Unions.
    The Cities, Bureau of Street Lighting can go ahead and place the lights without the Cal-Trans red tape
    Okay. Here’s the solution.
    Four, large diameter power poles planted in the sidewalks just outside and on both sides of the street of the underpass. On top of the fourteen-foot poles attach a tensioned heavy steel cable running under the underpass and not interfering with the underpass structure. From the cable hang the high-intensity lights.
    Nothing touches the Cal-Trans freeway underpass. LED light fixtures would be best.
    Of course, the tensioned cable might attract pigeons,; which may not be a bad idea.

  8. That lot living under sunset blvd bridge are as appalling as they get…see them sleeping as I go to work…see them “partying” as I drive home from work.
    I’ve got a brilliant idea…let them compromise our “boots on the ground” presence in the fight against the Islamic state in syria…

  9. Great article by Ms. Acosta.

  10. Lots of people making money off this problem; politicians, police, lawyers, judges, clean up crews and nothing changes.

    Homelessness has increased under Garcetti’s “leadership.” A world class embarrassment.

    • Yes, Eric and Mitch do nothing about it they just shove it down our throats and do nothing about it. The more you keep giving them money and feeding them the more will come.

  11. Thus far, the biggest consequence that I can discern from comments on this message board is fear. Otherwise, I think the city should be providing port-a-potties, garbage and recycling cans, and regular clean-up of these encampments. Other social services should be offered but not mandated. Ultimately, they’re already there. We have a common-sense obligation to contain the immediate effects of the situation while the elites, middle-class, liberals, conservatives, politicians and officials, residents and advocates, newcomers and longtime residents including assorted community yahoos waste the next couple of years NOT figuring this out.

  12. Btw, EVERYbody is drinking to excess in this part of town. It makes no difference to me whether they’re doing it behind a hip door or curtain or cardboard box. Drunk is drunk At least the homeless aren’t driving while doing so.

  13. remove the parking restrictions on silver lake blvd. at the sunset blvd. undercrossing.
    motorists will no longer have to view the homeless village below sunset as it will become blocked by a row of campers permanently parked at the curbside.

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