LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Councilmember Paul Koretz intro-duced an emergency motion asking various city departments to report on the problem of hillside homeless encampments, one of which was determined to be the source of the recent Skirball Fire in the Sepulveda Pass.
The motion, which was approved on an 11-0 vote, call for reports from the city’s fire and police departments, as well as the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority and Caltrans.
“What we’ve been told most recently indicates that the (Skirball) fire was started at a homeless encampment hidden by ridges and foliage from view, and so it is believed that this property not only was not visible to anyone but also was not a property controlled by the city of Los Angeles,’’ Koretz said.
Koretz said he wanted the departments to report on the specific encampment connected to the Skirball Fire to determine if homeless people were trespassing on land not open to the public when they set an illegal cooking fire.
The motion also asks that the reports identify homeless encampments in very high fire severity zones and what actions can be taken to prevent trespassing in those areas.
“This is a housing problem and a homeless problem,’’ said Councilmember Mike Bonin, who seconded the motion. “And the new normal isn’t just that we live in an area with permanent high fire risk, the new normal is that we live in a city with encampments on our sidewalks and in our parks and canyons and under our bridges, and this should be a warning to us that we need to do more to ensure that people are housed and that we have LAHSA doing more aggressive and targeted outreach into hidden places in the canyons and in the mountains.’’
The fire scorched 422 acres since it broke out shortly before 5 a.m. Dec. 6.
No one was at the scene of the fire’s origin when firefighters found it, and no one has been arrested, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.
The flames destroyed six homes and damaged 12 others, and at one time prompted the evacuation of about 700 homes and an apartment building in the Bel- Air area.