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Downtown LA's Skid Row gets scrubbed down

June 20, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
High-pressure water hoses, biohazard suits and bleach. These were part of the arsenal for city workers who cleaned up areas of Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday.

According to the Los Angeles County Department of Health, certain parts of Skid Row are so filthy they violate the county's health code. So on Wednesday, crews from the city's Bureau of Sanitation collected hypodermic needles, human waste and other health hazards, before hosing down the entire block.

"I think it's good, should've been done a long time ago," said Joanna Wilbarger, who lives in an apartment building on 6th Street and Stanford Avenue, an area that was the focus of a major cleanup effort by the city of Los Angeles.

"It was a mess," she said. "A lot of feces and urine, because you can smell as you're walking down the street."

Part of the goal was to make it safe for people who live and work in the area, said Tonia Durrell, a spokeswoman for the city's Department of Public Works.

"If there are folks here that have belongings, we make sure that they have the opportunity to remove those belongings and store them properly," Durrell said.

The city plans to decontaminate six square blocks. The entire process should take two to three weeks.

"There are some real issues here on the streets here in downtown Los Angeles with crime and filth that's a real health hazard for children and for the moms," said Tom Jordan of the Fred Jordan Mission on Skid Row.

Some of the homeless on Skid Row said the cleanup effort was long overdue.

"It's very much needed," said one man, who identified himself as "Memphis."

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