Homeless encampment near Encino Little League baseball fields sparks concern

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Saturday, May 18, 2024
Homeless encampment set up near little league field sparks concern
Needles have been found in the dugout of the Encino Little League complex, one of many issues stemming from a nearby homeless encampment.

ENCINO, Calif. (KABC) -- A homeless encampment erected near the Encino Little League complex has prompted concern from parents and league officials amid allegations of theft and drug use, resulting in the discovery of hypodermic needles in the facility's dugouts.

"We've walked in and seen needles," said Adam Moskowitz, an Encino Little League board member. "We come in early in the morning and drive through the property to make sure it's safe, but we've picked up plenty of needles. It's becoming a safety concern."

The encampment literally looms large over the fields, as it sits atop a hill just beyond the batting cages.

Parents say it's more than an eyesore, and while interactions with those living at the homeless encampment had been limited, it's clear they come onto the property at night.

"They're constantly stealing our stuff. They're going in the sheds, even sleeping in the sheds," said Andrew Tapia, a coach.

Little League officials said they know who's stealing items because they've walked up the hill to confront the homeless living there, and found children's baseball gloves, bats, equipment and even jerseys.

Moskowitz said league officials took items back, adding "when we asked why they took it, they said they would go to stores and try to sell the items."

Hollywood businesses set up garden beds, planters along sidewalk to clear homeless encampments

"We're not trying to displace anybody, we just need to get into our facility," said producer Drew Dempsey with Sunset Sound. "This is a private studio, and you can't even walk in because there are tents all through here."

The encampment, which has moved locations a few times, was once nestled in the wooded area between the ball fields and the 101 Freeway.

There was a fire at the encampment a few weeks ago, so they moved their tents, now slightly closer, and much more visible, to those playing on the fields.

The Encino Little League has contacted Los Angeles city leaders in the hope they can help move the encampment farther from where hundreds of kids spend their afternoons.

In a statement, Councilwoman Nithya Raman wrote:

"Our office has worked swiftly and effectively to address encampments that have come up in this area in the past, and this time is no different. As soon as we were alerted about these new individuals, we have been working to bring outreach and housing resources to the site, and to bring people indoors."