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Homeless encampments concern Tujunga residents

December 30, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Residents of Sunland-Tujunga enjoy hiking in the Big Tujunga Wash. The remote area on the edge of the Angeles National Forest harbors rare plants and animals.

But it has also become a haven for the homeless.

Ed, who declined to give his real name, has been living in a tent here for a few months.

"I've always been kind of independent that way, I don't like to appear that I need to be taken care of," said Ed.

Some of the homeless have put up tents and keep the grounds around them tidy. But residents of nearby neighborhoods say others are causing problems.

"Then you have a lot of degradation of the environment, a lot of human waste, trash that gets in this area," said local resident Joe Barrett.

Barrett says during the station fire, the homeless encampments made it impossible for firefighters to drop retardant in the area, which enabled the fire to creep close to houses.

Residents say there are other concerns.

One of the problems is that during the winter storms, this area can fill up with water rapidly, and that poses a danger to anyone in the wash.

"We try to get them into alternative housing. One of the biggest problems we have is that most of them do not want to leave the area, most of them are from this area," said Barrett.

Ed says this is a temporary living situation.

"This is not a permanent situation, this is temporary. It's like a bus stop, I'm here waiting for the right bus to come and then I'm gonna be gone," said Ed.

There are plans to build 48 housing units for the homeless in Tujunga. That may encourage more people to move out of the wash.


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