Sepulveda Basin encampment cleanup enters final phase

ENCINO, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The final phase of an encampment cleanup at the Sepulveda Basin started Wednesday morning, city officials said.

The initiative led by Councilwoman Nury Martinez is described as a public safety effort intended to reduce the risk of brush fires and other dangers. It focused on 34 acres along Encino Creek.

Last July, a brush fire swept through several homeless camps and burned 10 acres. Another fire broke out late October and charred at least 60 acres.

The most recent cleanup occurred last November along Bull Creek. Other efforts have focused on the Sepulveda Basin Sports Complex and Haskell Creek, areas leased by the city from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Wednesday's cleanup of Encino Creek was an area that is located in an active flood basin and is off-limits to the public.

Cleanup crews found tents, furniture, tools and huge shelters made of wood and rags.

Officials said the homeless encampments have overrun the basin and have created a dangerous situation for the people who live there as well as residents in the surrounding communities.

City officials said they were reaching out to the homeless people in the area and offering assistance to move them to shelters.

"I think it's a pretty rotten thing. They gave me one day notice and told me I had to be out of here. That's pretty tough to do. Where are we going?" said Mark Kline, homeless person residing in Sepulveda Basin.

The three previous cleanups have removed nearly 500 tons of waste from the basin and thousands of pounds of hazardous waste, according to a press release. In the first phase, a Los Angeles police bomb squad was requested when a grenade was discovered during the cleanup.

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority and LA Family Housing are some of the agencies involved in the effort.
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