LOS ANGELES (CNS) — City cleanup crews began sweeping through homeless encampments in the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve again on Monday, Sept. 23, focusing on the Haskell Creek area in the second phase of a multiple-day cleanup effort.
Los Angeles City Councilmember Nury Martinez, who represents the area, was at the site Monday to get a look at the cleanup, which is expected to go through Wednesday, Sept. 25.
The reserve is owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, but the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks leases a majority of the reserve as park space. It is illegal to camp overnight in the Sepulveda Basin, and having people living there has created a “dangerous situation” for the encampment inhabitants, visitors who want to utilize the park space and residents, according to Martinez’s office.
Rick Coca, communications director for Martinez, said more than a dozen people are living in the Haskell Creek area.
A spokesman for Martinez’s office said those displaced on Monday were given the option for going to other temporary shelter housing or receiving drug addiction services. All personal items were bagged and would be stored in an offsite facility for at least 90 days. The same offers would be made to others found during the cleanup.
“Staying in the Basin overnight is illegal and not an option,” the spokesman said, adding the the approaching fire season and its perceived dangers also led to resuming the cleanup effort.
During the first phase of the cleanup, which began Aug. 5, a Los Angeles Police Department Bomb Squad had to be summoned when a grenade was discovered. More than 140 tons of trash was collected during that operation, along with 200 tons of green waste.
According to Martinez, LA Family Housing secured 15 available beds, of which five were accepted by people living in the basin, including two people who subsequently moved into permanent supportive housing.
A fire scorched about 7 acres of thick brush on July 30 in the Sepulveda Basin and displaced at least 100 homeless people.
Explosions from propane cylinders in the encampments could be heard from within the fire’s perimeter as firefighters moved people away from the path of the fire. No injures were reported.