A simple situation of trying to attend a concert at the Hollywood Bowl turned into a series of lies and deceit by the Los Angeles County government. All of this was in an apparent attempt to hide that the County has chosen to sacrifice its residents’ needs to a group of people they have neglected for years.
We have a Park-n-Ride near our home that has been in place for over 30 years to transit people to the Hollywood Bowl. The Bowl has seating capacity for about 17,500 with parking for a fraction of that. The system of busing people has compensated for the lack of parking for many years and works extremely well. While attending a recent Van Morrison concert it appeared our local lot was shut down — a lot that is always filled to maximum capacity for any event at the Bowl.
When I called the Bowl to find out why the lot was not open, I was told that the Traffic and Safety Dept. of LA County had not renewed the contract. They offered me two lots as a replacement, both of which are out of the way. I obtained the telephone number for the person responsible at the Traffic division for the lot. When I told him what the people at the Bowl stated to me, he told me it was the Bowl that canceled the contract. After a bit of a heated conversation over the he said, she said finger pointing, it became clear the people at the Bowl were not truthful and there was a budget fight between two LA County departments (the Bowl is owned by the County).
I returned my inquiries to the Bowl with a request to find out who had made the decision to close the lot. If you look up the word “obfuscate” in the dictionary, you will see pictures of both Bowl and LA County employees. Getting a straight answer was not in the cards. Neither party took responsibility.
The head of community relations at the Bowl contacted me and tried to shovel garbage onto the pile of lies I had been told. She finally capitulated and had the local director for Board of Supervisor Sheila Kuehl’s office contact me (yes, the same villain from a prior column).
After a brief discussion, all the lies about who and why the decision was made faded away. The County cut the lot off for transit because there were homeless encampments on the lot. She then cited a CDC recommendation (we have heard this story before) that homeless should not be relocated to mitigate further spread of COVID.
First, I thought why was the CDC opining on homeless? Why are they expanding their domain when they are struggling to cover the area for which they are responsible? I went on the CDC website and read the expansive commentary and could not find any prohibition against moving any homeless people. The woman from Kuehl’s office sent me a paragraph stating the people on the lot should not be dispersed because of the possible spread of COVID.
That brought up lots of thoughts. Homeless have been known to carry any of six other communicable diseases including Hepatitis A, Tuberculosis and Hepatitis C. The County moved homeless before COVID, and those diseases do not have easy cures. Then I made a logical, simple suggestion – quarantine the people on the lot, vaccinate them and then move them. Issue solved. No response to that one. I suggested that since you are requiring Sheriff Deputies to get a vaccination or be fired, why can’t you require the same for these people? Then I told her that a group of homeless had been moved from a site very close to the Studio City lot. Her answer was that site is in the City of Los Angeles, but the lot is in the County. A discussion ensued on that point (to state the obvious).
Then I went to the site, and this is what I wrote to Kuehl’s office director. “I was at the site yesterday morning to which it appears no one is tending. When did it become a motor home park because there are four on site? No toilets: these people are ‘going’ somewhere but not in facilities. That is creating a dangerous situation for everyone. I saw piles of trash and I did see syringes in the trash pile I drove by. There must be rats running around all that. And do you think the county is treating this humanely by leaving them there? Quarantine them, get them COVID shots and move them. Do your jobs and stop telling me who you are working with because their efforts are worthless. ”
She informed me of the efforts she and an alphabet soup of agencies and NGOs were making to “rehouse” these people. Isn’t it nice how governmental wonks produce new nomenclature to cover situations? I instructed her that to rehouse them they would have had to be in houses in the first place. They have been living in tents.
Before anyone jumps to the conclusion I am insensitive to the needs of these people, let me tell you what I tell everyone. When you walk by one of these people you should think “there but for the grace of God go I.” Having read extensively about this situation we should stop referring to them as “homeless.” Virtually every person on the street has a drug problem, a mental illness problem or both. Putting them in a $500,000 unit (yes, that is what they are building in LA) will solve nothing. They need proper drug counseling and medical care. Once that is achieved there is some hope of rehabilitation and getting them back to a normal life. It has been achieved with many people.
Playing namby-pamby with them is doing us and them no good. The population does not seem to go down. They are a danger to themselves and often to us. There are regular reports in my community of attacks on residents and intrusions into homes. Living on a County lot without proper facilities and a means to obtain daily nutrition is inhumane.
Using the excuse of COVID for allowing them to remain on a county property is not confronting the situation at hand. Kuehl and the other Supervisors are just kicking the can down the road.