Homeless man takes over Echo Park stairway

ECHO PARK — The Clinton Street Stairway across from Echo Park Lake is often littered with broken beer bottles and trash despite ongoing clean ups and even a grass-roots restoration effort.  But conditions have worsened in the past month after a homeless man began to pile items at the base of the southern flight of stairs. The items range from shiny trophies and shopping carts to furniture and what looks like a musical keyboard. “The little piano or key board is the final item that drove me crazy,” said a man who has asked the city to clean up the mess. But the city, for now, can’t touch that pile.

Tony Arranaga, spokesman for Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, said the district office has received numerous complaints about the pile. The Bureau of Street Services and the Bureau of Sanitation, which handle clean ups, were notified in September, and both the police and representatives of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority have visited the site. But “the person living there is  uninterested in moving,” said Arranaga, which means the necessary notifications and outreach must take place before a  cleanup can begin.

The  Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority “is planning to return soon with the department of mental health,” Arranaga said via email. The stairway is on a cleanup list but “our office has not received word as to when that might happen.”

Pile photographed by Eastsider reader

Pile photographed by Eastsider reader


  1. Yeah, that Coldplay cardboard display IS pretty horrifying.

  2. wtf – how is this legal?

    • It’s illegal for the police to remove jomeless people’s belongings without cause. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/25/la-homeless-belongings_n_3497165.html I suppose since the items are blocking access to the staircase and are probably a safety / health hazard they could be removed – but there is all sorts of outreach that have to happen first. I run by there weekly and it’s getting pretty nasty.

      • They don;t need “cause.” All they need to do is give the required notice, after which they can remove it. And they also have a policy to send out some outreach first.

        But none of that needs to take very long. If it does, its because of city bureacracy, not because what needs to be done is too much. This is NOT a 30-day notice of eviction, like for someone renting. This is a notice to remove or it will be removed. We’re talking days, not months.

    • why Coldplay is legal is one of life’s greatest and most vexing mysteries.

  3. It’s not that it’s legal, it’s that the dept. of mental health has to get to it. The dept. of sanitation isn’t allowed to clean up sonething that involves a mentally ill human being who needs to be dealt with professionally before dismantling his castle.

  4. “But ‘the person living there is uninterested in moving,’ said Arranaga…”

    explain this to me like i’m five: if i move onto someone’s front lawn and i’m uninterested in moving, would “the necessary notifications and outreach” really be needed, before clearing me out of there? how is this different? the stairway is not this gentleman’s property.

    • Five year old: “someone’s front lawn” is private property. This staircase is public property. The person who has set up here is allowed to be there, just not allowed to “live” there.

      • The Eastsider recently published a story about the same issue in Highland Park. At least in HP, the did clean up the area.

      • youknowho, now that we’ve established that he’s allowed to be there, can we get back to discussing why he’s being allowed to live there? still makes no sense.

        • Where do you suggest he move to? He’s homeless. There is no place he can go that isn’t the same circumstance. If you move him out of here, maybe he will just move to the sidewalk in front of your house.

          No matter where you have him move on the streets, you are not solving the problem, you are merely moving it closer to someone else instead.

  5. While they are at it can they also take down that fucking full-on suburb that has been erected under the 101 freeway on Alvarado? For christ sake, can we get some fucking law and order in this one horse town?

    • Last year I drove by here while the police were trying to get everyone to move out from under the bridge, it lasted maybe 3 days before they were all back. The forts these homeless have made under the bridge are massive. It’s kinda messed up when the homeless have more room to entertain friends than I do.

      • If you’re looking for more outdoor space, I’m sure you could easily trade your apartment to someone living in a fort under the bridge.

        • You’re right I could, but instead I made the right decisions in life, worked hard and am not a drug addict. If they’re able to build such elaborate forts, get a job in construction and move out from underneath the bridge. Everyday people come to this country with nothing and make something of themselves, homelessness is laziness in most cases.

          • I was driving by one day and one of these guys had a ceiling fan next to his pile. A CEILING FAN. Dude didn’t even have a ceiling!

          • You are so sadly misinformed about the causes of homelessness. Firstly, you assume this guy is a drug addict simply because he’s homeless. I recently helped a woman who is highly educated accredited Medical Aid who returned home from serving two terms in the Navy to learn that her apartment in Echo Park had been sold. She is a 42 year old single mother with a college degree. She has been unable to find employment and was denied Section 8 Housing. She is currently living in a homeless shelter with her toddler while she continues to search for jobs and apply for Veteran’s assistance. She is not a drug addict. She is not lazy. And she thought she was making a sound decision when volunteering to serve her country. Get your head out of your overprivileged ass and go volunteer at a homeless shelter where you will learn that people are homeless for a slew of unfortunate circumstances, least among them lazy drug addiction.

          • If you had made better decisions, you might have a better job where you could afford a house with a yard so you could entertain your friends.

          • So people are homeless because of “poor decisions?” Is that why you don’t own 10 cars and have a private jet? Shouldn’t everyone have those things if they work hard enough? How can you be so blind to the homeless problem.

    • Bellevue Resident

      I second that, it’s gotten beyond just homeless people sleeping under the bridge…it is a full-on encampment/shanty town at this point.

      Is it me or has EP gotten worse in regards to trash hordes in the last six months? Perhaps our new councilman needs a refresher on the situation?

    • Start with your cheap sounding potty mouth, sounds trashier then the staircase we speak of .

    • Not according to the Supreme Court – the City of LA has lost a lot of lawsuits about going after homeless property… the City would love to just come in there and junk it all, but can’t due to homeless lawsuits. You got law. But the law is against the order.

  6. Unreal. I get a ticket for parking my car in the wrong place/time but this loser can just pile his crap all over public areas? This city needs a MAJOR reform. I’m sure he’s mentally ill and it’s a really sad story but this is an unsustainable policy that needs to change.

    • That’s because you have something to loose.

    • The City lost some lawsuits with the ACLU over the seizure and disposal of homeless people’s property, and I think entered into a consent decree about it…and probably underfunds the mental health case workers needed as the preliminary step before junking his stuff. Note: I’m only guessing about the consent decree requirements…

      • The city did not lose a lawsuit. The city SETTLED the lawsuit, a negotiated settlement. Yes, it looked like the city stood a good chance of losing otherwise, but the city settled and agreed to do certain things. But that was a suit over what the city was doing only on SKid Row in downtown, where they were rousting people and taking their only possessions and looking for any excuse to put homeless people in jail — all to make way for developers who bought Skid Row property very cheap and then wanted the homeless out so they could turn around the sell at high prices to the gentrifiers.

  7. Oh, “the person living there is uninterested in moving.” I see–so sorry, my mistake. I thought that was a public right-of-way.

  8. A very similar situation is happening right after the offramp for Colorado off the 2 in Eagle Rock. There has always been a group of harmless homeless people (who actually keep the sidewalk clean of trash!) hanging out on the other side of the Vet across from where Ernie Jr’s once was but now someone has started to accumulate tons of stuff taking up the entire side walk! There is a desk/”office” set up with a bed and everything. It’s a complete eyesore! I don’t understand how the Vet is okay with this happening on their wall!

  9. Gee if it were a homeowner blocking access to a public staircase it would take even longer to get the public access restored.

  10. Is it illegal for a private citizen to pick up trash on the street? To my knowledge, it’s not. So, can’t a private citizen pick up all this trash and throw it away? No permit is needed to pick up trash on the sidewalk. Wait til the guy is gone, drive up in a pick-up, and throw his trash away. Simple solution.

  11. The wife and I noticed this yesterday while walking around the lake. We watched a couple coming down the stairs and saw them kinda looked scared and confused when they got down to this pile, luckily theres the other side you can walk down. I also noticed just above that on the hill theres like a huge makeshift tent with a bunch of trash in front. Whoever this homeless person is, they have lakeside property with downtown views and a tent larger than my 1 bedroom apartment. Also, what’s up with the mini horse rides near the playground? That can’t be legal…..

  12. This is pathetic. I don’t care how mentally ill this guy is. He’s blocking people’s access to the lake, creating an eyesore, destroying quality-of-life (which will lead to further tagging, crime, etc.).

    Oh but no no no…the city can’t remove him from a public stairway designed for THE PEOPLE OF L.A.!

    Who wrote this law? I think it should be revisited. Yes, it sucks being homeless. Can’t think of anything worse, actually.

    But that doesn’t give this dude the right to shit on everything.

    Council-people of L.A. – get your act together!!!

  13. People you can thank the ACLU for the law that prohibits anyone from touching the homeless mess! If you really want to get cleaned get a crew of neighbors and get it done that’s the only way. We as citizens can touch the mess but police and city can’t. Like I said thank the ACLU they went to court on this one in fact send them the pictures so they can see what they caused!

    • Right… more things for the public to police. We, the public, already have to police graffiti, leashless dogs (barking dogs, defecating dogs), noise violations, leaf blower violations, neighborhood safety, pick up all the trash that the trash people just leave on the ground when they spill it out of trash cans, trash scavenging etc. etc. etc.

      I’m sick of this shit. We PAY the police. Not the other way around. When’s the last time I saw a cop walking the beat? Never?

    • Thank you ACLU. Tough problem but getting tough is not the answer.

      • A couple years ago, politicians tried to push through a “Homeless Bill of Rights.” One item was, if a homeless person urinated in your front lawn, he could not be cited, because he was homeless. But, say, your neighbor had a party and somebody from that party urinated on your front lawn, he could be cited. I hope those politicians who came up with that stupid idea, were voted out of office!

        • Guess what? The current Silver Lake Neighborhood Council came out with a recommendation asking the legislature to support the so-called “Homeless Bill of Rights”. I know it’s ultimately a powerless statement, but nonetheless these folks claim to speak for us.

  14. Kill it with fire!!!

  15. FYI his name is Todd and he’s a gentle, nice guy. Clearly his living situation is out of control and he’ll have to be moved on. But let’s not totally dehumanize a human.

  16. I love seeing diarrhea on my evening walks! Los Angeles, the place where they let people take dumps on the sidewalk!

  17. Beverly D'Angeleno

    How about a weekly firehose wash down? I can only imagine the scabies, bed bugs and other public health nuisances left to breed here. Are they so crazy they will rebuild on a weekly wash down site? Either way, we have to consider their physical health as well as mental. It may actually be the most humane thing we could possibly do for them!

  18. I’ve seen some homeless hoarders in my day… but this is bananas!

  19. Well, good luck with this. It took the city over a year to clean up the giant trash pile a homeless woman had accumulated on Sunset Blvd. in Silver Lake. Then she returned and started it all over again on the opposite side of the street. Something is seriously wrong if a homeless person – or anyone – has more rights than the community at large. Hell, why doesn’t a homeless army just move into the Echo Park lake lawns? Tents, open air toilets, trash – bring it on. Because, hey, we have to wait for the mental health authorities to schedule time to come by and assess the situation. In the case of this public stairway, who wants to volunteer to break their leg on these stairs, to see if this speeds up the process?

  20. los angeles has the highest homeless population in the country. nobody wants to not have a safe space to return to at night in order to sleep. hes a human being and hes having a really hard time, mentally ill or not.

    be a decent human and show some respect. millions of people are down and out and sorry that you sometimes have to pass by this staircase and be reminded of that. god forbid you guys think about something else than having room to “entertain friends”.

    we are all in this together and it would be nice if people started acting like it.


    • I’m complaining about a dangerous situation next to a park where children play. I think there are bigger safety issues to worry about with this homeless man here than your bleeding heart is concerned with. What I DON’T want, is to pass by that staircase and be reminded of how a child was assaulted or how someone got Hep C from stepping on a syringe. Also, I think I am a decent human being, as in I don’t crap all over my neighborhood and make it other people’s problem.

      • Spare us your melodramatics. You care more about the view than kid’s safety.. Having said that, I draw the line when someone else’s illness infringes on the natural rights of everyone else. A reasonable compromise is for him to pile his junk somewhere else that it doesn’t impede everyone else’s freedom of movement. The rest is just a national tragedy. I’ve lived to see things that I never thought I’d see occur ThiS country(?!). ThiS is what we relegate our fellow citiznes too?!? Utterly cowardly and pathetic.

        • Spare us YOUR melodramatics. You’re an incorrigible bigot that cares more about the neighborhood’s “spice” and “white gentrifiers” than the safety of ANYONE.

          • Leave it to the guilty insecurity of some to predictably default to playing the race card(?). Where in this article or thread did that become an issue being debated?!? Like I said, utterly cowardly and pathetic.

  21. that man has been there a long time now (much longer than a month). i have no problem with him. we have 60,000 homeless people on any given night in LA. why pick on him? why pick on any of them? if you hate it, try to be a part of the solution. there are a lot of social service agencies that need volunteers. many of these people are not as resourceful as you, maybe their mental capacities as not quite as together as yours, or they have just been down so long: they feel like there are no options. try and have some empathy for those who are less fortunate.

    • I’m pretty informed about homelessness. I actually made an award winning film about it. What motivated me is just how upsetting it is. That said, this is ridiculous. No individual or group of individuals (be they homeless or not) has the right to a de facto claim of public space.

  22. Todd has been my neighbor for about 8 months. We wave hello every day and often have small chats. During the last heat wave, he told me he didn’t mind the extreme weather because he has spent a winter outside in the snow. This was during a time that every social media sight was filled with weather complaints. He is very soft spoken, polite, and in need of help. Complaining is so easy, especially on the internet. If you feel passionate, volunteer.

  23. Salt Lake City came up with a clever solution to solve their homeless problem – provide them with homes.

    It costs the city a lot less money than all the rigamarole they used to go through dealing with their homeless problem. And their formerly-homeless people a lot better off, too.

    • A free roof? Heck, I’m in. Why should I bust my behind off trying to make a living when I can get it for free??

      • clearly, there is some sort of mental illness that leaves this segment of the population unable to care for themselves. Stop being an ass hat and show your fellow human being some compassion.

      • Once someone gets a home and can get health care and heal themselves, they can get a job and be a productive member of society. Your concern is heartwarming.

  24. How about make sure all homeless folks get housing? Home For Good, a project of the United Way, (http://www.unitedwayla.org/home-for-good) worked with eight communities throughout Los Angeles County to house homeless veterans and the chronically homeless. The results exceeded everyone expectations. Now Home For Good is being rolled out to all communities in Los Angeles, including Echo Park/ Silver Lake .

    To pool resources, all small committees will be grouped into hubs- Silver Lake has been placed in a hub running form Westlake to Silver Lake. The hub is still in the formation stage. The “kick off” will be in January 2015. Want more info? email me [email protected].

  25. Great point skinny Dog , but he needs to move , how about all homeless by Vons , we never had this problem before it’s ridiculous .

  26. What a bunch of vapid people. The man is homeless! DO YOU NOT COMPREHEND THE REAL ISSUE??? No,..? nothing…? Monkey playing the cymbal in your brain….? Well, that explains it.

    • So let him move into your house (or onto your front lawn). No? Didn’t think so.

    • This may come as a shocker, but it’s possible to find this situation unsanitary and unpleasant; while also supporting the need for more housing and services for the homeless. Streets and stairways are public right of way, this guy has no business blocking them with all his belongings… how long do you think this stuff would stay put if it were in the middle of the street?

  27. Is it the measure of a civilized society how they treat their less fortunate? He’s a mentally ill man. It’s not his fault. Let’s get him some help.

    Provide him with an apartment and treatment services. Other cities have figured this out. If you want to seriously address homelessness, this is the answer. Yes, it costs money, and it is a long term commitment.

    • Nobody is saying don’t get the man help and from the article it sounds like there is some outreach going on (or about to go on). I think most folks are just frustrated that the situation is being allowed to persist and fester. There are public health and safety issues involved.

  28. All you liberal assholes just STFU! If this happened on the sidewalk right in front of your house or apartment, you would be the first one to call the police. Nobody, well most people, know that there is a humane way to help this man and clean up those stairs. But, then again, you can try to help somebody but unless he wants to help himself, you’re just wasting your time!

    • @David, your tone and language are not helpful, and in case no one has let you in on the way that society works: you can’t speak that way and expect to be taken seriously. It displays a lack of critical thinking and communication skills, and lets the world know that you are still not developed enough to seek a solution to a problem. Not only are you focused solely on the problem, but your message has been loud and clear that others opinions are not valid. Good luck with that.

      • @Michael you must have missed the part of STFU. You are part of the problem, not the solution. Your opinions are not valid because you’re a moron. Have a nice day and don’t forget your rose colored glasses.

  29. People bottom line call and complain to your Council and Mayor’s office and keep the calls and emails going until we get results these are all great comments but the Mayor needs to see them!
    What you say is important! Look at what happened in Griffith Park yesterday!

  30. Wow. When I lived in my beloved EP, people understood that the neighborhood was gonna have a little “spice”. You entitled, white, gentrifying yuppies have scrubbed the color from the landscape and destroyed one of the last interesting, non-homogenized corners of the city. Maybe you guys should check out Irvine, I think you’ll be much happier there.

    • Shit,needles,garbage,etc. that’s spice? We need more people like you displaced. Your mentality is what turned these once great neighborhoods into shit holes.

      • I agree Martin. I’m hugely sympathetic to the plight of homeless people, but the idea that this social problem is adding ‘spice’ to a neighborhood is absurd.

        There has to be a third way – something that isn’t ‘burn it with fire’ on the one hand, and ‘it adds to local color’ on the other. How about a practical, rational approach that addresses the causes of homelessness at the source. Improved mental care, affordable housing, and addiction treatment. It’s a costly and lengthy process, and at odds with the vile Randian thinking that guides much policy debate here, but it’s the only sustainable solution.

        • What happened to all the Prop 63 money that was supposed to go towards mental health. I don’t get it. We keep paying for these new taxes and the problems seem to get worse..

          • i agree with jessica, except that the hood has not been scrubbed white. it has changed a lot in recent years, but it is a mixed community and will probably stay that way for a long time. not every street but many. the poor man does not have more rights than you but the same rights as all of us.

        • Beverly D'Angeleno

          Sounds great. I’m in. Now back to the topic at hand…what to do about the public health threat blocking the public stairway?

    • so you support letting the homeless stay on the streets so YOU can have the spicy neighborhood? That is fucked and selfish of you.

    • Glad that the plight of others is just a little “spice” in your life, Jessica. You are as disgusting as the trash heap in the photo.

    • Jessica, please shut up with that ridiculous nonsense. If you are so lazy that you tolerate trash, graffiti and gangs might I suggest you check out San Brenardino? I heard It’s a nice place for people who don’t care what their neighborhood looks like.

    • This comment makes no sense. No one wants homeless encampments in their neighborhood. Absolutely no one. To racialize the issue just reveals your pre-existing agenda to racialize anything and everything. This man has taken over a portion of public space in a way that is unsightly and unjust to the public. It needs to be addressed, obviously. Are you suggesting otherwise? You will have few supporters for that position.

  31. Diarrhea sprayed onto walls makes ever neighborhood spicer. Every time a homeless person craps in my driveway, my tolerance for their situation lessens.

  32. Diarrhea sprayed onto walls makes ever neighborhood spicer. Every time a homeless person craps in my driveway, my tolerance for their situation lessens.

  33. He must have a bicycle in that mess to rate this many comments.

  34. Please Check out the Silver Lake Neighbor Counsel website, they are endorsing a Homeless Bill of Rights.
    Which states he has a right to sleep and live where ever he wants.

  35. I often take food to feed the homeless people living under the bridges in hipster east LA and I’m always greeted by friendly, appreciative and kind people, many of whom have interesting stories. Maybe their way of life is an eye-sore to some of you as you drive by in your Prius chugging your Intelligentsia coffee on your way to your self-important self-employed job title. But for these people, living on the streets is a way of life that I’m quite sure they didn’t aspire to. So as you jog by on the way home to your overpriced hipster apartment rolling your eyes in condemnation just remember that these souls don’t get to leave.

    • When the day comes that you guys get laid off of your job and you’re no longer allowed to sit on your MacBook Pro at Fix all day: I will refer back to this thread when trying to figure out how to deal with you living in your car next to the Taco Truck.

    • Most of these people need to be forced into a drug re-hab,mental institution or jail. It is only a small minority that are living on the streets due to hard times. If you can’t see that then you are naive. Do you notice that you never see homeless people holding signs that say “will work for food” anymore. Try offering the homeless work. Very few will take you up on it. Making it easier for them to live on the streets doesnt help them.

      • Martin, you nailed it!

        • i work on skid row with the homeless. they’re not all on drugs. if you’re going to focus on conjecture, nothing positive can come of this conversation.

          a large percentage of the people I work with are veterans, senior citizens, mentally ill, runaways, abused women who fled a violent situation and people that were forced into homelessness by a catastrophic event. there are certainly drug addicts, but to say that all homeless people are addicts is misinformed. FWIW: the reason you’re not seeing those “will work for food” signs much anymore is because holding a sign is considered “aggressive panhandling” and can get you arrested.

          • I said most are either mentally ill or on drugs. I didn’t say all. I have tried constantly to employ the homeless and it’s the same thing every time. Very few will take you up on it. I never see any homeless standing out in front of Home Depot looking for work. And are you kidding me about holding signs.? I see plenty of homeless holding signs that say “hungry,please help” or some other b.s. But none say will work for food. Because they know they can make more money panhandling. And as long as people keep giving them money or letting them camp under bridges and staircases what incentive do they have in working.

  36. That’s why i moved 2 glendale! Not perfect but much cleaner and less Riff-Raff like this guy.

    • “That’s why i moved 2 glendale!” Love-It. I’ve always said that it was just a matter of time before the novelty of urban living crystallized into urban reality. i’ve seen it before and this is how it starts. the worm may finally be turning.

  37. the vast majority of the people who commented on this thread are clearly awful human beings and it leaves me seriously worried about… well, just about everything. you’re all ghouls. shame on you.

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