LOS FELIZ, CA – Los Feliz, Los Angeles is the home to an underground pedestrian walkway that has now been overtaken by homeless people, and the residents are urging the city officials to shut it down and fill it in.
The tunnel, which is packed with homeless residents and their belongings is located under the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and New Hampshire Street, and just steps away from Los Feliz Elementary School.
Parents and children, who now rely on a crossing guard to cross the busy boulevard feel this has become a safety issue.
— Brandi Hitt (@ABC7Brandi) June 8, 2021
Senior lead Officer Lenny Davis of the Los Angeles Police Department said in a statement:
“We’ve had reports of narcotics being made down below, people actually trying to cook inside the tunnel, trying to heat during the cold time with open flames, so it definitely became a safety issue,”
Davis says the city has tried countless times to secure the 70-year-old tunnel, but people cut the locks or slide through the chain link fencing that surrounds both of the tunnel’s entrances.
The homeless have essentially turned this into an apartment complex. There is reportedly even an electrical cord that stretches from a homeless encampment near the south entrance, down the stairs and to a power source inside the tunnel. This poses an obvious fire threat as well.
ABC7 reported that Carlos Sarmiento has been living in the tunnel for nearly eight months and gave an Eyewitness News producer a tour of his underground accommodations. The subterranean walkway sports a bed, a sofa, a flat screen television and makeshift walls with lighting overhead.
“I’m looking for a job,”
“I don’t want to be here forever because I want to change my life. I want to go get something different.”
Davis has stated that some members of the L.A. City Council, along with residents in the community want the tunnel permanently closed and filled in with concrete so the homeless are not able to gain entry again.
Underground pedestrian tunnel in Los Feliz taken over by homeless https://t.co/wE7CcRvgQw
— Guardian_Elite (@Guardian_Elite) June 9, 2021
Milagro Jones, who used to be homeless himself, said:
“They’ll make that inaccessible to the homeless instead of solving the actual problem, which is giving them housing,”
He and his daughter were homeless for a stretch, living on Skid Row and in shelters. Jones says L.A. has to step up its efforts to build places for the unhoused to live before rousting them from their current spots.
He told Eyewitness News:
“The people who are homeless right here are not homeless by their own choice,”
He went on to say:
“They’re homeless because the city of Los Angeles has not made resources available to them to be housed.”
ABC7 reported that the tunnel is just a block west of another encampment at Berendo Street. Many residents there have been trying for months to get the city to clear it out. There has been substantial progress, with the city finding housing for most of the people who had been living there.
Sara Wilson, who has lived on that block of Berendo for more than two years, said:
“He’s also just a young man,”
“He and his partner live here and they have kids that are thankfully with family right now, but they’re just a young couple trying to do their best.”
Davis says more community outreach is needed throughout the city and suggests neighbors band together to find ways to fix the homelessness problems where they live.
“The solution’s got to come from the community,”
He went on to say:
“It’s not going to fall on one agency or one department. It’s going to take a village.”
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Report: World-famous Venice boardwalk in police-defunded LA is now a huge homeless encampment
May 7, 2021
LOS ANGELES, CA- Since the pandemic began, the already large homeless population has skyrocketed, leaving neighborhoods and community spaces overrun with the issue, and the violence that comes along with it.
The world-famous Venice beach is one prime example of an area that was once pristine, and is now inundated with homeless people living in tents. From the boardwalk and on, there has been a dramatic increase in fires, fights, drugs, and violence in the area.
While one can not help but feel sympathy for these individuals, the residence of Venice are tired of it, and want something to be done.
Venice Beach Boardwalk 2021 pic.twitter.com/Uz8y7wh6v5
— Venice Beach Boardwalk (@BoardwalkVenice) April 14, 2021
ABC7 reported that a resident, Isabel Storey, was walking her dogs and saw the line of tents.
“I’m so sad I’m just feeling like our public officials aren’t doing their jobs.”
According to reports, counselors visit the area almost every day in an attempt to re-home these individuals to shelters, however, many would rather remain where they are. One of the homeless people who has no interest in relocating to a shelter is a man named Robert, who said:
“Shelters are just prisoner of war camps for the homeless. I’d rather be free than have all that. I get up when I want, go in when I want, no no curfews or anything like that,”
While the residents are demanding a change, Councilmember Mike Bonin said the solution is to build more housing.
“We need to be doing everything we can to get as many people housed as quickly as possible,”
— Venice Beach Boardwalk (@BoardwalkVenice) May 7, 2021
This is not the first time the residents have heard this solution, or excuse from Bonin, and they are no longer buying into it.
Resident Vicki Halliday said:
“You promised us a cleanup when bridge housing went in, which I live very near. It’s a disaster zone. We no longer believe anything he says,”
The crime rates are causing the residents to invest their own money into feeling safe in an area that was otherwise fairly quite.
“We can no longer use our town. Most of us have spent a lot of money on cameras, on fencing, on new locks. I’ve had two attempted home invasions, my life has been threatened once,”
NBC 4 reported on the crime rates last month, saying that the LAPD crime stats from 2020, obtained by the I-Team, show a 31 percent increase in crime reports in Venice compared to 2019, where the suspect was described as homeless.
An explosion rips through a #Venice Beach homeless encampment. Just the latest chaotic scene in a series of shootings, fights and fires plaguing the world famous boardwalk. The angry residents who want action. Tonight at 11 from ABC7. https://t.co/11dIe8lbpA pic.twitter.com/KLjZqqlUFg
— ABC7 Eyewitness News (@ABC7) May 6, 2021
The unhoused were also increasingly the victims of crime, up 83% in the same time frame, according to LAPD data.
A homeless resident living on the Venice Boardwalk told NBC news last October:
“Every day there are fires, guns, knives, crime. There’s a lot of crime here,”
Councilmember Bonin says he is open to finding any solution.
“We can’t be at a place anymore where we’re saying no to alternatives to homelessness,”
He went on to say:
“If we say no to an alternative to homelessness, we need to say yes to something else.”
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