20
Sat, Jul

Eagle Rock Fireworks and Homeless Increases

THE EASTSIDER - If you ever thought there are two LA’s, you’re right. Sunday afternoon we had the annual Eagle Rock Fireworks display over at the Eagle Rock Recreation Center.  Around the same time, we discovered that LA as a whole had homeless increase by 10,000 over last year.

Eagle Rock Fireworks

I stopped by the annual Eagle Rock Fireworks festival around 5 pm, looking to see if any of the 6 candidates so far running against Kevin De Leon had booths or were there to shake hands.

It was too early for Kevin himself to be there, but I did find Alice Roth of his staff and tried for a quote.  No joy. Who I did find there with a booth, was our own Wendy Carrillo, currently Assemblymember for the 52nd District, and who has announced that she’s running against Kevin.

We had a nice chat, and I discovered a few things about her.  For one, until she became Assemblymember in 2017, she used to always come to the annual event.  Second, it turns out that she does coloring books for kids.  The one I thought was cool is entitled “Reduce Your Carbon Footprint”, with the subheading “A Student’s Guide to Keeping California GREEN”.

I am told that when De Leon did show up at the event, he was quite upset that Carrillo had been socially (as in politically) active, meeting and talking to attendees, sharing her story. I guess Kevin has a problem understanding that a Public Event is just that - public.

Anyhow, it was a side of the Assemblymember I had not seen before, and I came away thinking that even in a field of 6, she could give De Leon a run for his money.

Finally, I understand that later in the evening, when Kevin De Leon showed up, he even gave our very own ‘Sir Michael” Michael Nogueira written acknowledgement for all his community work over the years. Congrats!

Homeless Increases

As the Daily News recently noted:

“The number of homeless people in the City of Angels has increased another 10% year-over-year, to an estimated 46,260 people, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority’s annual homeless count.”

As for the County,

“Related: Homeless population rises 9% in LA County

LAHSA’s 2023 homeless count report,

LAHSA’s 2023 Homeless Report “released Thursday, June 29, showed that more than 60% of the region’s homeless population reside within the city of Los Angeles. Countywide, the number of homeless people in this year’s count was 75,518, up 9% from the prior year.

“The results are definitely disappointing, with all the hard work and all of the investment, but they’re not surprising,” said Va Lecia Adams Kellum, executive director of LAHSA, during a briefing with reporters.

...

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said the data shows the crisis the city faces. “The challenge before us is vast, but we will continue to work with urgency to bring Angelenos inside. … We must sustain our momentum by locking arms with leaders at every level of government as we confront this crisis as the emergency that it is. Lives depend on it,” she said in a statement.”

Our politicians, of course, are essentially clueless, as the LA Times wrote June 30th: 

“L.A. leaders have thrown themselves into the fight against homelessness in recent years, spending an ever-growing amount of money on programs meant to pull the city’s neediest residents back from the brink.

Elected officials have celebrated the opening of new homeless shelters, cut ribbons outside nearly a dozen “tiny home” villages, and welcomed the completion of nearly 3,000 subsidized apartments — housing paid for, in part, with funds from a $1.2-billion property tax hike passed by voters.

Yet those efforts weren’t enough to alter the bleak picture laid out Thursday by officials with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, which reported that, in spite of those initiatives, homelessness had gone up by 10% citywide and by 9% across Los Angeles County.

The region’s politicians, business leaders and others responded with a mix of frustration and disappointment — and even flashes of anger.”

The Real Issues

The politicians ‘solutions’ are obviously not working, spending zillions of dollars on things that do not work.

My Citywatch colleague Dick Platkin had it spot on in his recent piece laying out why the Mayor and City Councils insistence on building more housing is not and will not  work.

“As long as City Hall’s planning policies are based on deregulation, missing monitoring, and lax enforcement, the housing crisis will get steadily worse. Community residents will continue to complain about homeless encampments, and City Hall will respond with LAPD sweeps that push the homeless to other sidewalks and alleys.

Karen Bass’s approach combines Inside Safe the with further deregulation of LA’s zoning laws and the LAPD hassling the homeless. This is not a pretty picture, but it explains why Inside Safe has so far failed, and why local residents still clamor for more anti-camping laws and chain link fences.”  

It’s a really good article by a former LA City Planner, and I urge you to take a look. He has some good ideas.

The Takeaway

Let’s acknowledge that there really are two LA’s. One, like much of Northeast LA, which is now relatively affluent, as defined by having folks who can afford $2500/mo. plus for a small apartment, if they can find one. Or a million for a small house.

As for the rest, I think the LA Times got it right in a June 30th piece:

“L.A. leaders have thrown themselves into the fight against homelessness in recent years, spending an ever-growing amount of money on programs meant to pull the city’s neediest residents back from the brink.

Elected officials have celebrated the opening of new homeless shelters, cut ribbons outside nearly a dozen “tiny home” villages, and welcomed the completion of nearly 3,000 subsidized apartments — housing paid for, in part, with funds from a $1.2-billion property tax hike passed by voters.

Yet those efforts weren’t enough to alter the bleak picture laid out Thursday by officials with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, which reported that, in spite of those initiatives, homelessness had gone up by 10% citywide and by 9% across Los Angeles County.”

I prefer to call it what it is. As I put it in a 2017 article, which goes back all the way to 2004 and earlier, City Hall Flashback: They’ve Always Lied about Affordable Housing! 

“It seems pretty clear to everyone from the LA Times to the Neighborhood Councils that developers own our Mayor and the City Council -- the PLUM Committee, the Planning Commission, and the Planning Department are all no more than an afterthought to the relentless destruction of our neighborhoods and our City itself. Where the communities have been able to generate the funds to challenge these developments in court, the City has lost most of the cases. But who has the resources to sue our own government all of the time?

With virtually no opposition to re-electing the Mayor and the City Attorney, not to mention most of the City Council incumbents on the ballot in March, it is highly unlikely that anything will change, absent some outside force.” 

It is a sad truth that in two decades of promising affordable housing for all Angelenos, nothing has really happened, other than seriously raising the number of homeless. And widening the gap between the haves and the have not’s big time.

Anyone want to take a bet on the City Council actually doing something?

(Tony Butka is an Eastside community activist, who has served on a neighborhood council, has a background in government and is a contributor to CityWatch.)