Westchester residents upset over plan to use local park to house homeless

WESTCHESTER, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Residents say Westchester Park is already filled with dozens of tents with trash strewn everywhere. Many are citing safety concerns as they oppose a plan to use the park to house the homeless.

"Right now we're being held hostage, that we can't use our park," said area resident Tom Brewster. "We're not asking to solve the homeless problem. We're just trying to keep our children, our neighbors, our seniors safe."

Brewster and others are concerned over plans to set up homeless housing in the park. There is a also a proposal that would use parking lots at the beaches for single occupancy tiny homes or safe camping.

Teresa Masterton doesn't go to the park anymore.

"Who wants to bring their kids here? I feel for these people, but the city has to find a place for them," she said.

Councilmember Mike Bonin's field office is in this park. Residents say they've called to discuss the issue.

"They just take your name but they never get back," said one resident.

MORE | South LA parents upset over homeless camp near school
EMBED More News Videos

Parents of students who attend the South L.A. elementary school say their kids are scared to leave the school grounds due to the nearby homeless encampment.

Residents say one part of the plan is to close down the park altogether and make it into a safe camping area - and they feel that is unacceptable.

"To think about shutting it down to take away that green park space from everyone, it just doesn't seem fair," one resident said.
Bonin's office says this is not accurate, and that the councilman is looking for immediate, urgent alternatives to encampments.

His office released a statement, which says in part: "I have proposed moving existing encampments in Westchester Park to a designated area of the park, with security, sanitation and services, returning the majority of the park to public recreational use while we house the people currently living there."

Area resident Sara Chapman says this is a citywide issue and she's willing to look at everything.

"I think a solution like Bonin's plan should be considered. I think we should move forward with a feasibility study," Chapman said.

MORE | Program breaks homelessness cycle by giving treatment, not jail time
EMBED More News Videos

This program in Long Beach helps people avoid repeat minor offenses, provides treatment instead of jail time and gives participants a chance to get off the streets.

Copyright © 2022 KABC Television, LLC. All rights reserved.