Westchester parents upset over homeless encampment near school

WESTCHESTER, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Drive down Coral Tree Place in Westchester and there are RV's on both sides. Some are obviously not going anywhere. One is dismantled and torn apart. Trash and junk are strewn about and blocking sidewalks. And all of this just a few feet from the Westside Neighborhood School.

"One of my families did drive by one morning with her child in the car, and there was a man fully unclothed by his vehicle, which was an unsettling situation for a 4-year-old," says school principal Brad Zacuto.

Parents feel this is dangerous for their children. Jeremy Dicker has children at the school.

"When you see drug deals taking place and dogs off of a leash and people tapping into powerlines and water, it's very concerning," Dicker said.

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Right now they are only a few students at the school as allowed by the county department of health. But officials worry about what will happen when the entire school reopens.

"We have a great deal of empathy especially at this time for vehicle dwellers but we have this situation and it's incompatible with the health and safety of our school," Zacudo said.

"I can go, I got family, I can go with my mom, I could go plenty of places," said William Harrison, who lives on the street.

We asked him if he and others would go to shelters.
"They're ready to go, and I understand about the kids that are here," Harrison said.

Zacuto had a conversation with Harrison, telling him, "We want to be a part of the solution and our school community will do whatever we can do to be supportive of these folks and help them find resources."

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Parents and the school say they've reached out to the city and Councilmember Mike Bonin's office.

Bonin's office sent Eyewitness News a statement, which says in part:

"I've heard the concerns from neighbors and school officials... LAHSA has conducted outreach to the residents of the encampment, Sanitation has provided frequent service there, and DOT has issued citations to vehicles that are in violation of the existing 4-hour parking restrictions. No one deserves to live on the street, and the ultimate solution to this problem is to build more housing, and provide better Safe Parking alternatives in the area."

Parents say that really doesn't do anything to take care of their issue now and that's upsetting.

"I find it incredibly concerning that their needs, their rights are being put before our children's and our most susceptible to concern, our children's concern. It's a big deal," says Dicker.

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