Beverly Grove area business owner says 'nude homeless encampment' is negatively impacting business

"I have a nice clientele, but now my clientele is getting to the point where they just don't feel comfortable," she said.
Wednesday, April 12, 2023
BEVERLY GROVE, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A business owner is calling on city officials to take action after reporting a homeless encampment in which a naked woman was seen lying on a couch, saying it's negatively affecting her business.

The encampment sits along San Vicente Boulevard, just south of the Beverly Center.

The business owner, who wished to be identified only as Debra, told Eyewitness News her customers are afraid.

"I have a nice clientele, but now my clientele is getting to the point where they just don't feel comfortable," she said.

She has owned her hair business for two decades and has seen the crisis grow within the past two years. She said she's also scared to work past 6 p.m.

A photo taken on Tuesday shows the woman without clothes lying on a couch at the site. Several tents and furniture were also spotted along the street.

"I saw the couch one day out there and I think, 'Oh my God,'" Debra said. "The next day, I came back and see she's all over the couch and she's just naked. She was crying. I felt bad for her, you know? I wanted to like give her something to cover up but I felt like if I do the little things, then I'll have everyone coming and asking for help."

Debra told ABC7 she has called the MyLA311 call center and her councilmember for help but claims she hasn't received a response.

On Wednesday evening, Councilmember Katy Yaroslavsky, whose district includes communities on the Westside, issued the following statement:

"My home is within walking distance of these encampments. I walk or drive past this neighborhood almost everyday with my three children. What these small businesses and the surrounding communities have had to endure is unacceptable.

My staff and I have been doing everything we can to manage the situation while working hard to locate housing and services."

There's a stark contrast to how cities handle the issue of homelessness and it can be seen near that intersection of San Vicente and Orlando, which is right where Beverly Grove borders the city of Beverly Hills.

On the L.A. side, the sidewalks are dystopian - littered with tents, tarps and trash, but right across San Vicente, in Beverly Hills, there isn't a single tent or encampment.

"There's nothing in Beverly Hills," said business owner Mike Terani. "Right when you come over in L.A., that's where nobody can do anything and nobody cares."

Terani said the area has been plagued with encampments for years and said he can't get city officials to clear them out. Dr. Kenneth Wright, who owns a medical building on that block, said LAPD officers have told him there is little they can do.

"I talked to the officer - he's a great guy - he says, 'Look, they tell me from the mayor's office, they tell me from my chief, to leave them here,'" said Wright. "We're not enforcing vagrancy laws here."

But Southern California's top homelessness official doesn't see how L.A.'s crisis is worse than other cities.

WATCH | New LA homelessness leader, same homelessness crisis

New LA homelessness leader, same homelessness crisis

"What we hear is that the encampment problem is everywhere and that all the cities are feeling it," said Va Lecia Adams Kellum, the new CEO of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA).
At an open forum Wednesday, Kellum, who's been in her position for less than three weeks, admitted L.A.'s homelessness crisis is getting worse, despite billions of dollars raised through Prop HHH and Measure H.

"With such investment and progress, people are still falling into homelessness at a faster rate than we've been able to pull them out of homelessness," Kellum said.

But as the number of homeless encampments increase, so do the dangers associated with the unregulated camps.

Wright showed us photos of one encampment that was set up on the backside of his building. It went up in flames, causing $25,000 in damages to his offices.

"Luckily nobody was hurt, but the smoke went into my medical office building. We had to shut down for two weeks," Wright said.

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