Leaders struggle for solutions as safety remains top concern at San Vicente homeless encampment

Christiane Cordero Image
Thursday, April 20, 2023
Safety remains top concern for everyone near San Vicente encampment
This week, workers for the city of Los Angeles came out and cleared out a lot of the stuff at the San Vicente homeless encampment. But the homeless who were living there remain, and they say they do not always feel safe either.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- This week, workers for the city of Los Angeles came out and cleared out a lot of the stuff at the San Vicente homeless encampment. But the homeless who were living there remain, and they say they do not always feel safe either.

People living in the encampment sleep to the sound of traffic going down San Vicente Boulevard, at least they do on the Los Angeles side of the road. The side in Beverly Hills is completely free of any tents or homeless.

Councilmember Katy Yaroslavsky of the Los Angeles City Council says she does not always feel safe in her own district.

"Um, I think it depends on the time of day and who I'm with and who's out and about. For the most part I would say yes, but sometimes no," said Yaroslavsky.

Durand, an unhoused person, said he does not always feel safe at the encampment either.

"One time someone was throwing quarter sticks of dynamite and it went in between my tent and someone else's tent," Durand said. "It blew up in my face but I was alright."

Durand shares the sidewalk with roughly two dozen people. He told us he was the first to arrive a year ago.

"The sidewalk's big enough so you're not blocking anything," he said.

The San Vicente encampment is one of several that straddle city lines in and around L.A.

A line of RVs sit parked along Forest Lawn, feet away from Burbank.

Under the 405, a Venice Boulevard encampment straddles L.A. and Culver City.

The solution transcends all.

"Mayor Gold, in particular, who I've been talking to recognizes that this is really a regional problem that is gonna require regional solutions," said Yaroslavsky. "They may all be on the L.A. City side of San Vicente, but it's a challenge we all need to attack together."

She says part of the problem is that L.A. is tied to complying with certain requirements. The city has to offer housing to anyone it's trying to move. It has to be a certain kind of housing.

Sometimes, the housing options are geographically restrictive.

Yaroslavsky is pushing for synergy between cities and the county, and for more housing catered to people with mental health issues.

This week, L.A'.s Mayor Karen Bass proposed a budget that includes expanding housing, in part, by using city-owned properties.

The mayor's plan should be good news for Durand, but he says he is not yet convinced.

"I mean, if I was gonna have my own apartment, yeah. But if I have to go through all this other stuff, no. Because I've waited long enough," Durand said.

He said he has been waiting for the city to help him for more than 10 years.

"I've been giving up. It's just, I gotta help myself," said Durand.

The city council will spend the next several weeks reviewing the mayor's budget proposal. They have until the end of May to either approve or modify it.