Officials launch sweep of Arroyo Seco homeless camps

A homeless encampment being cleaned up near Bridewell.  | Martha Benedict

A homeless encampment being cleaned up near Bridewell Street | Martha Benedict

A multi-agency task force this week launched a clean up of  the homeless encampments that have mushroomed along the Arroyo Seco and the  110 Freeway in Hermon and Montecito Heights, where some of the  make-shift homes had second bedrooms and were equipped with TVs and computers powered by electricity tapped from power poles.

The sweep of homeless camps – many visible from the 110 Freeway – began Tuesday and will continue through today in a coordinated effort  involving  police officers, firefighters, county social workers and employees from the Department of Sanitation and  Recreation and Parks, according to Martha Benedict, a member of the  Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council. The sweep and clean up  was organized by Councilman  Gil Cedillo’s Field Deputy Sylvia Robledo.

The encampments of tarps, tents and salvaged wood sheets have raised concern among local residents as their numbers have increased and spread from the Arroyo Seco and into Debs Park.

Photo by Martha Benedict

Photo by Martha Benedict

Photo by Martha Benedict

Debris and trash collected from encampments | Photo by Martha Benedict


  1. Finally! It seemed as though 5 new camps were popping up every single day. They need to remove immediately, or else the situation grows like a bad weed. Same with the graffiti

    • They are humans and need a place to live no different than anyone else. These encampments were their homes because it was the best they could do. I was always proud that they existed without getting busted up, many of them were more tiddy than a lot of the homes in the area, and they kept to themselves living their lives. Now what are they gonna do? They are just trying to make the best out of life like any of us. Imagine if someone came and ‘Swept and Cleaned Up’ your life? Just show a little compassion people, life isn’t easy.

      • It’s one thing to have compassion, and another to let the homeless essentially annex public spaces. The parks are for everyone. The homeless can’t just claim wide swaths of it as their homes, so that the rest of us don’t feel safe there. Yes, homelessness is a real problem, but there are shelters for them to use if they choose to, which many do not.

        • @rockingeagle Here in the Arroyo Watershed, public spaces weren’t being “annexed” to the detriment of the rest of the public. The encampments were on the “islands” (or “narrows”) next to the 110, well away from park amenities, trails and biking paths.

          Unless you’ve taken a survey, the last line of your comment is a statement you couldn’t possibly back up.

          • …except for the large encampment in the middle of Hermon Park. And the dozens of shopping carts discarded on the side of the Bridewell exit. (I also saw cars parking ON THE OFF RAMP and unloading supplies for the encampments.

        • Compassion? Absolutely not. These people are dangerous. A lot of them use drugs and also have mental illness. The city and county need to start taking a hard stance against these homeless people and force the mentally ill ones into state mental hospitals.


          HUNNY BEAR!

      • BillyB, i totally agree with the essence of your argument, but I’d add/ask, do you live close to where this is going and have children that can’t go out and enjoy areas around where you live due to concerns about their well being and safety? I’m sure those folks didn’t mean to or want to end up being forced to live where/how they do, but it does have an impact on qualify of life of others around them as well.

        • @Monty Hghts In all seriousness, where in Montecito Heights were children not going out “due to concerns about their well being and safety” due to these encampments?

          • Debs Park…Montecito Park…the Seco to ride bikes, Sycamore Park…should I go on?

          • Are you seriously asserting that all areas in your list have been off limits to our community’s children “due to concerns about their well being and safety”?

            Get a grip.

      • Why dont you open up your house and backyard to them then. Have you seen the amount of trash that has collected and is spilling into the wash and the surrounding areas. There are plenty of shelters, no need to go camping in parks.

        • @Dion There are not, actually, “plenty of shelters.” If you had nowhere else to go tonight, where would you rather be: Skid Row or the Arroyo?

        • I work at a shelter in Pasadena and we have wait lists up to a month to get a bed. other shelters are the same, even on skid row- if you need a place tonight you can sleep in the outside patio of a shelter on skid row.

      • I have lived across the Arroyo since 1972…I also understand that people need homes, regardless. However, don’t sugarcoat who the majority of these people are. Many come after being released from LA jails…I have found them at my home going through the yard and testing to see if doors are unlocked, cars in driveway broken in to…and 2 calls to police for finding them, nude and under-the-influence, showering in my driveway. There are women and kids around when this happened…the women reported it. I give as much as I can…however, they choose not to use paid a for a by a taxes…shelters. Hmmmm…wonder why?

        • I have worked for more than 25 years with homeless services in LA County. The majority of homeless are not “just out of jail” the majority of homeless are under the age of 18, the majority of homeless adults are employed but don’t make enough for rent or employable but not able to find a job.

      • We would have a more manageable situation if we could somehow prevent other states from giving “their” homeless one-way bus tickets to LA, SD and SF.

        Perhaps we need an Ellis Island desk at the greyhound terminal.

    • While the Council office may have coordinated this clean up, it was way way way overdue. How could this have been left to fester for so long? I mean when you can drive along the freeway and literally see that the persons living on parkland are creating their own private dump piles, you know that such trash and refuse is a vector for rats and other disease carrying pests. Yet month after month went by with piles of garbage growing and growing next to these homeless encampments. In fact, one wonders if the murder of one homeless man could have been prevented by more proactive and humane direction of law enforcement and social workers to address these ills. That is the job of being on City Council. It’s very different from being in the State Legislature where you think you have “made a difference” because you passed a bill. The City is where the rubber of state legislative policies meets the reality of the road.

  2. Just yesterday I saw the same guy that broke into my house slip through a fence to Debs. He hangs out there by the river with the druggies that hang out in lower Debs. This is a huge problem and I’m glad to see it is brig addressed. I truly hope if there are vets and folks with legit mental problems living down there, they can get help, but the ex cons and drug dealers need to find another place to camp. I volunteered for years in Hollywood working with the homeless and there are resources out there for folks that truly want to clean up their act or who want to make positive changes.

    • “. . . there are resources out there for folks that truly want to clean up their act or who want to make positive changes” IF they are in their right mind. Most homeless I see by the river are obviously not. I do believe there is plenty of food made available to the homeless but that is not the case when it comes to overnight housing.I resent presumably “decent” people being satisifed with the out-of-sight, out of mind strategy. It makes no difference to me whether the homeless establish shantytowns in the middle of the city or in the middle of nowhere. It’s an unacceptable situation that should never leave our minds. In fact, we’re more likely to apply ourselves to developing a solution if these people are staring us right in the face, every single day of our lives. Accordingly, I hope that the homeless re-establish themselves in another high-profile location where they can’t be ignored. That is most effective contribution they can make towards addressing their situation.

      • I’ll put you first on the list for offering them a job and opening up your home to some of these folks.

        • And I’ll sign You up second. We’re in this together Orrr you can move to Murrieta with the other heartless and cowardly “citizens” and a disgrace to decent society.

  3. Hope they can move these people to areas that are meant for habitation and not recreation and transportation. These trash covered camps were in parks, pedestrian areas and bike paths that were rendered unusable by the rest of the public.

    • I am not sure where a path was made unusable by a camp site. Would you care to elaborate? I’ve been commuting past these camps 5 days a week in the Arroyo Seco the past two weeks and I haven’t seen a blocked passage due to camp-site debris. There are fairly regular Public Works truck patrols for dumped stuff in the Arroyo – so maybe you encountered something that was dumped and assumed it was camp trash?

      Anyway, I’d be interested to hear about your experience.

  4. Hallelujah !
    The fact is that most of these people chose to live this way! They don’t want a better life, this is the life they want. No worries, no tax, no work! I have no sympathy for most of them.

    • @ HLP Hood What an ugly sentiment.

    • The homeless choose to be homeless just like non-rich people choose to be not rich. If you have bills or can’t take vacation or buy anything you want anytime you want it, it is because you have chosen not to be rich. So stop complaining about taxes, you choose to not be rich enough to get the loopholes.


        whhhhaaaattttt THE FUUUUG??




  5. Same thing needs to happen up by the Eagle Rock. The druggies that hang around the Vons are growing in population and theft in the area is increasing.

    • For a second, I thought you wrote “Echo Park.” Sadly, we have a huge encampment (where someone was stabbed) by our Vons, too. I call that street Pee Alley now.

  6. Are there homeless services in NELA to send these folks to, and help deal with the situation? Shelters, clinics, whatnot?

    • @ corner soul: Short answer, not at the scale needed for true solutions. Our communities are between Skid Row services and Union Station in Pasadena, both of which are relatively overloaded.

      One group working locally is Recycled Resources http://www.recycledresources.org/ .

      • Yeah, I live near Union Station in Pasadena… Seems like Cedillo could do a lot more to address the problem than just kicking them out. Maybe build a local shelter, instead of expecting other communities to deal with his district’s problems.

        It doesn’t look like Recycled Resources has any local facilities (at least from their web site), maybe that’s the place to start since they presumably already know many of the homeless living in the community.

        • @corner soul I believe Recycled Resources tries to pull in / leverage existing resources specifically for people using the watershed as a place to stay:
          1) helping them apply at existing shelters (harder to get in then most of us think),
          2) trying to get Section 8 vouchers (not easy to come by)
          3) and even simple things like helping fix bicycles so when a sweep comes, people can move themselves prior to the deadline (most likely to another local park, like Sycamore Grove).

          A local shelter that serves NELA does seem to be needed. In the interim, our homeless neighbors will continue to move from one open area to another.

        • If it was so easy to just build more shelters, they would already be built. But, try and build a shelter in Pasadena or in DTLA, and see all the NIMBY’s bitch and complain. Go to Skid Row and you’ll see the overcrowded shelters-like the Midnight Mission, and you’ll see why so many homeless are moving to other parts of LA-like the Arroyo and Santa Monica.

          • @David: Pasadena already has a couple shelters, and some services… we’re certainly doing more than Highland Park about it.

            And Downtown LA is completely oversaturated with services, I don’t blame residents there for pushing back against more shelters.

            IMO, what needs to happen is every neighborhood in the county should be required to step up and absorb a little bit of the problem… the old way of trying to sweep the problem under the rug on skid row just isn’t cutting it now that downtown LA is finally starting to develop into a proper urban center.

        • A local shelter would be a big help. Over the past year and a half doing a school run and seeing the same homeless men and women day after day I started to get angry about the lack of a safe place for these folks to go to the bathroom, clean their clothes, and sleep securely when they need to. Many of the people I say “Good morning!” to over the past year are drunks who hustle from before sunrise to about midday every single day to scrap and recycle their way to a buzz and some food. I’ve seen a few of them for years – and the few I’ve spoken with have family in the neighborhood or have simply made it their home – but lack a place to stay physically clean and safe.

          How hard would it be to have a shelter or a drop-in center where people can be placed in studio units in the area and have social workers help them out? Is there a ton of push back that would prevent something like this from happening?

          • I would guess that there would be a ton of push back. There usually is when a homeless services center gets proposed. I guess the reason for the push back is from people being scared that if you put something in their neighborhood designed to help the homeless that it will attract homeless people to that spot and then the area around it turns into a mini skid row. I mean, that’s usually (though not always) what happens. I’m not saying that’s right or wrong, but I can understand the reason for the push back. Unfortunately, I think that any real, non half assed, attempt to help the homeless in LA is going to take a ton of money and no one is ever going to let that money go.

    • BringOnTheRevolution

      Nope, and they’ll be back in a few days, after spending some time in the traffic island at Fig and York. This is just a way for Cedillo to curry favor with the fear-mongers and property-value police by making these people and their problems less visible. These are the same folks who care more about dogs than the people they live near.

      • People have a right to live in clean safe neighborhoods. Demonizing people who care about their families well being by calling them “property value police” doesn’t help anyone. And theres nothing wrong with caring about pets who sometimes as close to us as our families.

        • BringOnTheRevolution

          The homeless, often veterans, often mentally ill, also have a right to live in clean, safe neighborhood. And they at least have as much “right” to use a public park as a lavatory as a local gentrifier’s dog.

          • Here we go with the gentrifier BS. Homeless people have the right to use the park the same as everyone else. They do NOT have the right to take it over and make it their own, using it to shoot up and dump their garbage everywhere, making it unsafe and unsanitary for the rest of us! This has nothing to do with the evil “gentrifiers.”

      • Pretty weak leadership if that’s the case… but considering his flip/flop on the Figueroa bike lanes I’m not surprised.

    • there is a group of community members who are working on getting services to the NELA community. http://www.recycledresources.org/#!coalition/c1rvq

  7. The real issue is homelessness, not only in the greater LA area, but right here in Northeast LA. Maybe get angry and up in arms about that.

  8. Cedillo and O’Farrell please address this in Elysian Park and Echo Park.

    Its been said that certain Echo Park Pentecostal organizations are quick to bus in homeless folks to provide them with food, resources and a dose of Dreamy Evangelism. But when those recipients decide they’ve had enough of it (usually the Evangelism) there’s no forwarding ride to an alternate resource center, leaving them to linger in a neighborhood that has virtually no other services to offer.

    Can someone with some authority please ask the Church to offer forwarding rides?

    • As downtown becomes gentrified the homeless go elsewhere like Echo Park, Highland Park, Boyle Heights, etc., etc. And also, specifically Scott Ave. at Elysian Park have 3-4 people currently living there nightly. Tons of trash and lots of shopping carts on a regular basis- making noise often late at night or early morning.. f

      There is a man living in his car on my block. He is neat and clean. Does not leave a mess. Up early and out of the car daily, comes home late. Quiet and does not bother anyone I can tell. Neatly folds his belongings daily. If all the homeless behaved like this man I wouldn’t care where they live. As far as I’m concerned he can live like that as long as his wishes because it’s not a problem. But filth, drunkenness, drugs, noise, crime cannot be tolerated.

      We cannot stop trying to help (and I have worked on skid row so, please do not lecture me I do help.)

      • Nailed it! I have no problem with the homeless. Theres a homeless man that lives in my alley and the neighbors sometimes bring him food and clothes. Hes quiet, clean, neat and keeps to himself. If more people were like this and avoided becoming a burden to the community, there wouldn’t be a problem.

    • Are you talking about our best friends at Dream Center or the Angelus Temple? And if that’s the case, it would account for the uptick in homeless in EP as of late. The underpass at Alvarado and the 101 is out of control.

      I wish there was something better that could be done. I know our shelters are overloaded, but at the same time, couches and full on living rooms created on sidewalks are a health hazard.

  9. attention lapd, please do a sweep in this area (https://goo.gl/maps/WT1cS) on Oakwood Ave, between Beverly and Virgil just south of the 101. Tons of encampments popping up here and some really shady action on Madison Ave between all this.

  10. just to put in my 2cents, I have no problem with these homeless encampments and actually find them aesthetically somewhat pretty. i don’t see why you would be afraid of letting your kids play in these parks and i dont understant how the bike/pedestrian paths are deemed “unusable” being that i use them all the time with no problems at all. if you want to raise your kids in an environment where fairy-tails are true, and crime/homelessness doesnt exist then move to the suburbs.

  11. I just saw that they cleared out the area across from the Arroyo Seco Golf Course near South Pasadena. This doesn’t appear to be happening in Highland Park proper, just the area of LA that one can see while golfing in South Pas.

  12. I have been on the forefront of the fight of these existence of these camps on park grounds. I have contacted Cedillo , Huizar, Garcetti and LAPD Lead officers. You can disagree all you want and go down the philosophical road of “my brothers keeper” or you can see the problem for what it really is, by the way none of you have mentioned it yet. So here goes…
    Even by the NELA Homeless Alliance numbers only 15% are vets the other 85% are 98% Mentally Ill or on drugs,( this is an outreach program that caters to the camps so if its false then tell me who wins?) this element does not belong in parks or near playgrounds or grade schools for god sakes, I do not need to spell it out for you what “mentally ill” can encompass but suffice to say if you need to register when you move somewhere , most will skip moving somewhere.
    The vast majority of this population are quite aware of the local hand tying of LAPD, yes you heard it…the city was blocking LAPD from removing camps because of the recent 9th circuit court ruling the removal of homeless garbage as unlawful search and seizure and a violation of their civil rights, this ruling came at the hands of a lawyer who sought out the ACLU to make a profitable court case on behest of a homeless man in DTNLA after his garbage was removed by the LAPD from in front of a business in DTNLA.
    Heres the funny part this attorney lives in a 2 million dollar home in Santa Monica. This was not a humanitarian quest for justice so much as an easy attainable feather in the camp of a limousine liberal.
    So now we have an escalating homeless problem , not from lack of jobs, not from lack of housing, not from lack of services, it stems from the inside scoop that you can sit and camp anywhere because of this ruling and live with impunity because someone living in the cozy confines of a city that criminalizes homelessness decided to take issue.

    Now lets discuss why the said attorney might want to free up park or sidewalk space in neighboring Venice rather than in her cozy Santa Monica Estate, lets just say it keeps Santa Monica a whole lot cleaner.

    The idea that someone stating these camps are clean is just baffling to me and I am scared to see those thread posters houses. Every single one of these camps are littering plastic, human feces, urine, discarded toiletries, bottles, cans, condoms, tin foil that has been used for crack or meth . I have moved them prevented my dogs from chewing the garbage ,one trail had so much human shit on it it was sickening. The side of Debs was so strewn of garbage and miscellaneous crap that it was hard to tell if it was a park or a garbage dump. So if my civic pride offends you then you need to take a trip out of LA to other cities and countries and see the respect they place on public parks and how that instills civic pride in its inhabitants.
    Respect is a two way street, deeming those who stand against outright pollution and disrespectful vagrancy as intolerable is less than tolerable in its own right so choose your words.

    Just look at the escalating violence in Venice at their camps, or I encourage you to go to skid row lately , it is absolutely horrendous. So save me the” barbaric gentrifiers bull shit”, spare me the “where is your compassion? diatribe” the people who feel like scamming the system will do so even if it means living in filth, giving them that option is not helping them. this idea is in consort with what is seriously wrong with our societal philosophy at this stage in America “NO” is not always a bad word” losing can be good” capitulation and enabling does not help somebody who doesn’t want to help themselves

    All of this recent population stems from that single court decision, not gentrification , not the economy, pure and simple advantage taking..

    • @citizen X

      “Gaming the system”? Really? In what bizarro fantasy world are the homeless winning?

      “Civic pride” and compassion are not opposites. Clearly, when we have people living in parks, something needs to be done. I think though, and this is just a thought, that we as a community could probably figure out real solutions instead of just expelling people to other areas.

      Maybe save your outrage for better targets.

      • I feel like citizen x’s points about civic pride ring pretty true to me. It’s hard enough to get by in LA when you work hard, try to save money, and generally engage in civic life. It’s messed up that after working all day to scrape together enough to just barely get by with a place to sleep and some food to eat you end up having to watch a drug addled bum take a dump on the sidewalk right in front of you and your family while screaming racial obscenities. I want everyone to have some basic dignity and fair treatment, but the homeless that I’ve been encountering lately are not a hugely sympathetic bunch. I think that probably accounts for a lot of indifference (or outright glee) from the community when their camps get rousted.

        As for “we as a community could probably figure out real solutions…” Well, I’m listening. What do you suggest? If it was so easy, maybe someone would have come up with something good by now. Seems to me that any real solution would take a downpour of taxpayer money at the city, state, and federal level. Unfortunately money for homeless services will probably never take precedence over funding schools, firefighters, and infrastructure.

    • So you’re saying homeless encampments weren’t a problem in LA until a year or two ago? That’s hilarious!

      Also, I thought the idea behind that law was to move their stuff off the street into public storage bins, instead of just throwing it in the trash. I mean it may very well be junk, or it could be important paper work or medication.. really, who is qualified to make that call? And how is kicking someone while their down going to help them get back on their feet?

  13. I’ve read articles about the homeless displaced from downtown moving into the old LA County hospital area, and what the city is going to do about them. Could be some of the new campers in the HP area are more of the displaced downtown campers…

  14. The anti-gentrification crowd are for low property values,homeless encampments,more crime,graffiti and gang members. That’s why this place turned into a slum for so many years. Quit trying to make these transients out to be such noble people. Most are a bunch of ex-con drug addicts.


  16. We are all just getting ready for the real deal FEMA camps,yo!
    You who think you know us have a lot to learn. We are not just excon druggies. I myself have never been to jail in my 36 years on Earth.
    I myself worked alongside a Dr. in South Pasadena for three years, and may have even worked with you!
    By the way, the doc i worked for is married to a man, living in a beauuutifull house in south Pasadena, and you can find their home right on the sex offender registry! Go figure….it seems most of you have failed to mention the daily crime, drug deals, druggies, noise, and trash of those who are lucky enough to have “real” homes. I hear cops sirens nightly and they are not showing up for us campers, so……judge not,right?

    Swamp niggaz will never die!

    • Re: The Campers aka swamp niggaz…
      Please educate the rest of the people then on your purpose? Who are you and what is your philosophy? Are you choosing to live this way and why? What makes you right and the rest of the people trying to get rid of you or those trying to help you wrong? Is there a leader among you? You are obviously a sub culture/group of people trying to survive on this idea “f* the system” but most of you can’t really survive without the system… You don’t know how. You are not independent and self sufficient, no. Resourceful? Yes, to an extent- you still show up for free food at the church, you still wash up on municipal water, you still collect/recycle discarded goods to survive … within the system you hate. But honestly without the system, truly you would parish. Fortunately for you, the system is riddled with good willed humanitarians that will continue to fight for your rights so they can feed you and provide you with your basic needs- even when you miss the point – let us help you so you can learn to help yourself.

      • I said nothing of “the system”.
        And yes I do recycle. When people throw away perfectly brand new items, what is wrong with getting use of them, or giving them to another in need?
        I would not perish without wastefull brothers and sisters of this earth, wether part of the “system” or not.
        I didnt choose to become gomeless but I am learning a WHOLE lot about people and politics and it is very interesting, to say the least.
        I am educated, I do know how to spell perish, and I am not here to get out of any system. But I also know my rights and the basic universal rights of all humans…homeless or otherwise.
        Open your mind a little further my friend.
        Seems like you are the one stuck on the whole “system” issue.
        Have a Blessed day?

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