City ignores business owner's pleas for help: 'Downtown LA is a hellscape'

NBC4 in Los Angeles reported Tuesday that a business owner in downtown LA has been trying for months to get the city to clean up a homeless camp set up in an alley directly behind his business. However, even after a fire forced him to call the fire department, no one from the city seems interested in cleaning up the mess.

“Downtown LA is a hellscape now. And I don’t know who’s in charge of keeping it clean and nice but they’re not doing it. And I think that’s pretty shameful,” Josh Kaye said…

A week before, Kaye, who works at Lunch Money clothing, said there was a fire in the encampment that nearly jumped the fence to his business…

“We had to call the fire department. They came out, opened the gate, saw the carnage, told us you know what, sorry guys, there’s nothing we can do — can’t touch it, can’t clean it up. You should contact 311,” he said.

Of course, it’s not the fire department’s job to clean up garbage, but when Kaye called LA’s 311 line he was ignored. He has called the city at least 15 times in the past 5 months and no one has ever come to clean up the alley.

This is part of an ongoing pattern in Los Angeles. Earlier this year there was a typhus outbreak connected to fleas living on rats that make their homes in the mounds of trash collecting on the city’s streets. Despite that, in May the same station reported on a massive pile of garbage which had collected on Ceres Avenue downtown.

But no matter how many people called to ask the city to do something about the mess, it just kept getting bigger. Finally, after NBC 4 pressed the issue with the Mayor, the street was cleaned up.

In July, NBC 4 reported on 12 tons of rat-infested garbage which piled up in a space where a building had burned down. If you’re wondering what caused the building to burn, the answer is a homeless camp. After contacting LA’s mayor (who was at a conference in Hawaii) the garbage was cleaned up the same day.

Just a few weeks ago there was a large fire at a tent camp in the Sepulveda basin which was home to about 100 people. After the fire, the city sent crews to clean up the mess. Only two of the 100 people who had lived in the camp accepted the offer of a bed in a city shelter.

As the report below shows, the problem of dumping, garbage, and homeless people living in these areas continues. Unless you have the ability, as NBC 4 does, to put this on television and call the mayor directly about cleaning up the mess, the city’s default posture is to ignore pleas for help and do nothing.