The City of Los Angeles continues to play a dangerous game of “legal chicken” with the health of Skid Row residents. Over a number of years, Los Angeles has removed trash receptacles, portable toilets and just about anything that could provide a bit of humane comfort to those marginally housed. The LAPD simultaneously employed a strong-arm approach — taking and destroying items they deemed were “items of comfort” and insisting that those things make it easier for people to live on the streets. They forget to add, however, that shelters, transitional housing, and permanent supportive housing is maxed out and literally there is no room at the inn.
Unfortunately this is not a new occurrence in Los Angeles. Dating back to the 80′s Los Angeles has been engaged in the practice of taking personal possessions, destroying them and winding up in court as a result. Each time the court has reinforced Constitutional protections and has given Los Angeles clear instructions on how to enforce issues related to health and safety concerns, without illegally taking personal property. The injunction issued by The Honorable Philip S. Gutierrez is no different.
Los Angeles’ response to the recent injunction has been mean spirited and misguided, namely the outright refusal to clean streets and pick-up trash. Community residents have long cleaned Skid Row streets in the absence of consistent cleaning and trash collection. OG’s in Service have long enlisted the support of residents, arming them with colorfully painted trash cans and brooms, in hopes of supplementing the City’s infrequent collection. Residents forced to live on the street also clean their areas and place debris in the reach of skip loaders in the event they actually show up.
But these days they rarely show up. That is until the Department of Public Health showed up and cited the City of Los Angeles for numerous health code violations.