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Purple bus and other live-in vehicles face eviction from Echo Park Lake

The purple bus parked at Echo Park Lake

ECHO PARK –– Two and a half years ago, B.J. Dini and Simon Johnson first parked their bus by Echo Park Lake and set up shop for meditation, tarot readings and birth charts. The bus has since been painted purple, spawning a Facebook presence called The Purple Party, which welcomes people from across the political spectrum.  But the purple bus might soon have to find a new place to park.

Once the city starts enforcing new restrictions on persons living in vehicles, the RVs, campers and cars used as homes around the lake will have to move on. That includes the purple bus, which Dini says may be heading for the desert, maybe Joshua Tree.

The City Council passed an ordinance last fall saying people could not sleep in vehicles overnight in residential zones or within a block of a park or school or day care facility. During the day, people living vehicles must stay at least one block away from parks and schools. While the ordinance became effective early this month, the city said the LAPD won’t begin enforcement until early February.  That has prompted Dini to show up at recent Echo Park Neighborhood Council meeting to express his concern about the law and present a letter that reads in part:

“We invite the LA City Council to consider ‘vehicle dwellers’ on a case by case basis and perhaps issue licenses or permits to those exceptional buses, RVs, etc. which are living works of art and only add to the tourist attraction/value of the property and serve some kind of community function such as a lending library, meditation center, temporary housing and feeding of park residents who would otherwise have no shelter.”

Aside from a rotation of guests, the occupants of the bus consist primarily of Dini and Johnson, who’ve lived and been activists in two other neighborhoods that are also no longer affordable – a warehouse space in San Francisco’s Mission District, then another warehouse space in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, New York. “I feel like people my age are looking to mobile living,” said Dini, who is 33.

When Dini and Johnson first arrived at Echo Park Lake, it seemed particularly serene in contrast to Brooklyn. Purple flowers bloomed throughout the park that season, so that became the color for the outside of the bus and the interior fabrics.

“It sort of feels like an organic outgrowth of the lake,” Dini said.

B.J. Dini in his purple bus | Echo Park

Purple also gave it’s name to their Facebook group name “The Purple Party,” as the group became more politically active in Echo Park. They joined a homeless brigade, where Dini got himself detained by police after appearing with a sign that said “Jesus was a homeless prophet just like me.”

Dini and others have also been active at Echo Park Neighborhood Council meetings, in response to the new city ordinance. But at the last meeting – in a development that would surprise no one who has ever attended a neighborhood council meeting – Dini said the council spent most of the time discussing condo developments, relegating the homeless issue to the very end when most people had left.

“I love this city,” Dini said. “It’d be a shame to leave.”

Screenshot 2015-12-10 at 3.10.51 PM

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24 comments

  1. There is no affordable housing. I was just booted from a rent controlled apartment, so that the new owners can tear it down and likely build, dense, shitty, over-priced housing.

    • They moved here 2.5 years ago affordable housing was long gone. Carpet baggers wanting to be in a hip hood for free.

      • It’s going to be tough for them to give up all these wonderful, hip neighbors in Echo Park. Hopefully they’ll find an open-minded, empathetic community in another hip neighborhood like Silver Lake or Venice or Brentwood where everyone goes to be surrounded by super cool artists.

  2. This guy, an attraction? Your big oversized trashy hand painted winnebago is an attraction? Nice stab at validating your freeloading existence. If anything this thing is an eyesore that takes up valuable parking space in a neighborhood where you have to sometimes park three blocks away from your house. You can only park on the East side of the lake so anyone who lives in the houses or apartments on that side has to have their veiw ( that they actually pay for) obstructed by your “attraction”. Your purple monstrosity DOES not increase home value or add to the character of the neighborhood. I lived there on Laguna far before any bus like this could even safely park without being targeted by gangbangers so saying this POS is part of the neighborhood is complete bullshit. Please detail what happens to the refuse and human waste , there are no pumps for sucking the piss and crap generated by your attraction.

    The ordinance was passed for several reasons :the environmental impact of human waste, the congregation of people dealing are using hard core narcotics in mobile homes, prostitution/human trafficking rings and least of which but very important to quality of life of local paying residents the fact that commercial vehicles are covered by the ordinance so large trucks (LIKE YOURS) or semis towing trailers cannot park overnight. Yes times are changing , there are still plenty of places you can go where this sort of living is allowed. However; subjecting tax paying citizens of Echo Park(who voted for these ordinances)to accept this sort of eyesore is selfish to no end.

    • Citizen X: Agreed, but encourage you to tone down some of the words you’re using.

    • Very well said Citizen. Why should I pay my $3000 mortgage payment to get a view of the lake when I can buy a used Winne for about the same and park right next to the lake for free?
      I’ll be happy to see them gone.

  3. Margarito Wednesday

    Yeah, no more Ghost Ships on wheels around the lake please. I’m surprised they were allowed to park this long. The row of them on the south side of the lake on Bellevue has created a long wall of eyesore for years. I’ve researched van-dwelling on YouTube and people throughout the country say you should rotate your overnight parking spot every night to avert attention, but the lake has been a permanent residence for way too way too long. I do feel bad for some of them as they are my neighbors, but this a huge safety and sanitation issue.

  4. “The ordinance was passed for several reasons :the environmental impact of human waste, the congregation of people dealing are using hard core narcotics in mobile homes, prostitution/human trafficking rings and least of which but very important to quality of life of local paying residents…subjecting tax paying citizens of Echo Park(who voted for these ordinances)to accept this sort of eyesore is selfish to no end.”

    The logic eludes me, because some people in vans break existing laws, all people living in vans should be punished? Why not lobby the council to enforce existing rules rather than introduce regressive ordinance that unjustly victimizes a whole swathe of people in difficult circumstances that are just trying to keep a roof over their head? Pretty sad.

  5. As much as I don’t mind art installations like this, it’s very difficult to find parking at the lake, and usually these RVs take up around 30-50% of the spaces. Maybe park in a less desirable place to park?

  6. How do we balance compassion for those less fortunate — who can only afford to live in an RV — with our desire for clean and safe neighborhoods? Most of these folks would be in tents on the River or on a freeway onramp. We need to find a way to help the homeless.

  7. “An organic outgrowth of the lake?” In no stretch of the imagination can that purple eyesore be considered organic. A tourist attraction? We don’t need tourists who are attracted to purple RVs. Dini feels that people of his age are looking to mobile living, and I encourage him to mobilize that RV and take it at least as far as Joshua Tree.

  8. I just left LA/Silver Lake and moved out of state after living in the area over 65 years. I never thought I would but I could no longer stand a lot of things but the lack of parking and neighborhood streets turned into RV parks and “car for sale” lots were some of the problems. Paying property taxes should entitle a homeowner to some peace and quiet and clean streets. Money spent by the City to enforce parking restrictions is, in my opinion, a poor use of the police when there are so many other things that need doing. Realizing we all have different tastes maybe someone wants a big purple rv parked in front of or across the street from their home with the attendant sanitation, drug and traffic issues but I think most do not. And, Dini, who compares himself to Jesus, should keep in mind what they did to Him for being a contrarian! Dini should be glad he’s just being asked to remove his rv.

  9. You mean the jerks who interrupted a performance of 6 year olds at the parade? Your political agenda doesn’t mean you get to be discourteous to the rest of the community.

  10. From the ordnance:
    Penalty. A first violation of this section shall be punishable as an
    infraction not to exceed $25. A second violation of this section shall be punishable as
    an infraction not to exceed $50 and all subsequent violations of this section shall
    punishable as an infraction not to exceed $75. Violators may be eligible for referral to a
    prosecutorial-led diversion program such as the Homeless Engagement and Response
    Team (HEART).

    The fines are less than a regular parking ticket. I don’t see how this is going to be effective. Unless they (?) LAPD? parking enforcement? Write a ticket every day. Bottom line there is no enforcement here. And what about the all the tents at Echo Park Lake? It clearly says on the park rules sign No Tents but that’s no enforced either. Its such a shame that this jewel of park the pride of echo park has become a homeless camp covered with gang graffiti. The rule of law needs to be applied not just to people littering, camping on urban streets but landlords who push people out of rent control. This measure has no teeth.

    • FYI, there are laws for landlords that want to redevelop rent controlled properties… https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ellis_Act

    • Just be glad Echo Park lake doesn’t look like MacArthur Park lake. That place is a dystopian hell hole.

      • Where you see a “dystopian hellhole” I see a vibrant park that serves recreational needs for an incredibly densely-populated area. I’ve seen parents picknicking with their kids, young Latino men playing soccer, older Latino men playing chess and backgammon, and, yes, homeless folks resting on the grass. It’s gritty, and I prefer Griffith Park, but it seems far from a hellhole.

  11. Personally, I do not look forward to living in a neighborhood of curtain twitching, misanthropes, passive aggressively fulminating at the length of the next door’s lawn. A little more charity and tolerance would be becoming.

    • I don’t want to live in a neighborhood of curtain-twitching misanthropes either. I think wooden blinds are easier to peer out from.

    • Please, give the Purple Parasite your address, and let’s get that bus out in front of your residence on a long-term basis.

  12. Yes they need to get rid of all those homeless people in echo park how many people have been killed and hurt by them they have nothing to loose and most of them are drug addicts …before i used to give the homeless money but know i can’t see them i hate to see them knowing one of them killed my son there in echo park.

  13. you’re all a bunch of haters.

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