How the Homeless Camps on 39th Street Under the Freeway Were Cleaned Up

39th Street before the cleanup. There are four sets of camps, two large ones on the south (right) side, and two smaller ones on the north.

Leslie Evans

The long block of 39th Street between Flower Street and Grand Avenue here in Los Angeles, that runs under the Harbor Freeway, has long been a tent small town for the homeless. Maybe 30 people live there. Usually it is an unbroken façade of camping tents. But on Tuesday, August 16, the city was due to arrive for a cleanup. It had been posted for a day or two in flyers taped to the underpass walls, to start at 8:00 am.

I got there around 7:40. A few of the tents were already gone and people were carrying or wheeling bulky belongings out from under the freeway and stacking them up on Flower to the west or Grand to the east. An extraordinary collection of furnishings was materializing.

Read more: How the Homeless Camps on 39th Street Under the Freeway Were Cleaned Up

Community Scores Major Win as City Rejects Oil Company Plan for Gas Burner

24-foot-high CEB 800 gas burner with human figure to show scale. Zoning Administrator ruled that it belongs in an industrial zone, not next to homes and an AIDS clinic.

Leslie Evans

A three-year fight ended with victory for a West Adams community when Los Angeles Associate Zoning Administrator Charles Rausch on June 30 said no to an oil company's plan to install a massive gas burner in a residential neighborhood. The case involved the Murphy Drill Site at 2126 W. Adams Blvd., owned by the Freeport-McMoRan Oil and Gas Company, a subsidiary of the world's largest copper mining company.

Read more: Community Scores Major Win as City Rejects Oil Company Plan for Gas Burner

Palestinian Human Rights Activist Says Corruption and Failure to Invest in West Bank Economy Are Biggest Obstacles to a Palestinian State


Bassem Eid


Leslie Evans

"The Palestinian Authority has failed to lay the groundwork for a state," Palestinian journalist and human rights activist Bassem Eid told a Los Angeles audience June 16. He was completing a national speaking tour that began last fall and included some 27 college campuses. "It is counterproductive for European countries to recognize a Palestinian state when the elements of such a state do not exist. Even if such proposals had legal weight, they would give us not a two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but a three state solution. In addition to Israel we would have Hamas's Islamic emirate in Gaza and Mahmoud Abbas's small empire in the West Bank. But in any case the economic infrastructure has not been created to sustain a state and the Palestinian leadership is deeply mired in corruption and undemocratic practices."

Bassem Eid was born in East Jerusalem in 1958, when it was part of Jordan. He spent his first 33 years living in the Shuafat refugee camp. Today he lives in Jericho in the West Bank, "under the Palestinian Authority's jurisdiction," he points out.

In the late 1980s he was a senior field researcher for B'Tselem, the left-wing Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories. Through this on-the-ground involvement he saw up close the pattern of personal corruption and undemocratic practice of Yasser Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization, and the newer Islamist Hamas group. They suffer, he has often said, from the same self-aggrandizing and dictatorial bent that plagues most of the Arab world, both in its governments and in its major opposition movements.

Read more: Palestinian Human Rights Activist Says Corruption and Failure to Invest in West Bank Economy Are...

USC Holds Summit on Homelessness


Leslie Evans

Several hundred people gathered at USC's Town and Gown building April 17 for a summit conference on homelessness. They heard more than twenty speakers in four panels from Los Angeles city and county government and a wide range of leaders of homeless agencies and programs, as well as university faculty members. The presentations ranged from academic studies to workers in the trenches who deal with the homeless and their problems on a daily basis. Following are highlights of the conference.

Mark Ridley-Thomas at USC Homeless Summit

The summit opened with County Supervisor for the Second District, Mark Ridley-Thomas. He said his agency has seen homelessness as its top priority for several years, and that the county has set aside $100 million in new one-time funding over the next two years. "But one-time funding won't do it. We have to find a regular annual funding stream if we are to succeed."

USC President Max Nikias. "There is a moral imperative to help those in our community who are struggling just to survive." The homeless, he added, are not of one type. They include the elderly, the disabled, veterans, mentally ill, youth emerging from foster care, the poor who have lost their jobs, the formerly incarcerated, and young families who have lost their homes. "Homelessness," he insisted, "is the defining issue in the county of Los Angeles. Instead of averting our eyes from the crisis we must see it. If we don't act now the problem will worsen. We will have more to contend with than we can possibly handle."

Read more: USC Holds Summit on Homelessness

Los Angeles Homeless Update

Former Westminster Senior Center. Venice residents are divided over Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority's proposal, supported by City Councilmember Mike Bonin, to turn this vacant city-owned building into a storage facility for homeless property.
Former Westminster Senior Center. Venice residents are divided over Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority's proposal, supported by City Councilmember Mike Bonin, to turn this vacant city-owned building into a storage facility for homeless property.


 Leslie Evans

Mike Bonin Gets the Ball Rolling on Aiding the Homeless in Venice


Mike Bonin, Los Angeles City Council member for District 11, which is centered on Venice, tabled four motions before the council April 15 calling for specific actions to aid Venice's homeless. The City and County in February each adopted ambitious plans to end homelessness. But as these would cost several billion dollars that doesn't exist in the current budgets, nothing has so far been done. Mike Bonin has moved to change that with four low-cost initiatives that can make important improvements in the lives of those still living on the streets.


There are currently a little more than 1,100 unsheltered people living in Venice, including about 60 families.


Here is what Bonin asks the City Council to approve:

Read more: Los Angeles Homeless Update

Opposition Mounts over Los Angeles Seizure of Tiny Homes for the Homeless


Leslie Evans

Seizure by city workers of three Tiny Houses from homeless people February 12 has led to an outpouring of protest, ranging from the prestigious Los Angeles Times to a demonstration at City Hall and a lawsuit filed in the federal U.S. District Court, as well as widespread support for the Tiny House efforts by a wide range of homeless activists and their supporters.


There can be little question that if you are living under a tarp that one of these 6X10 foot wooden shed-type structures, with a lock on the door and solar panel for electricity, is a huge improvement. To date, 37 of them have been built, at a cost in materials of $1200 each, by Elvis Summers. He has raised more than $100,000 for the project from a GoFundMe appeal, and has distributed them over a wide area, from Van Nuys to Compton and Inglewood.


The city government has insisted that the little houses are not needed because it plans to construct housing for all of the homeless in the county. Those plans, however, lie in a vague future at least ten years away and to even get on the drawing board are dependent on passing multiple ballot measures that require a two-thirds majority and may not even be scheduled for a vote before the spring of 2017. That does nothing for someone living on the streets now.

Read more: Opposition Mounts over Los Angeles Seizure of Tiny Homes for the Homeless

City Seizes Tiny Houses from the Homeless


42nd St bridge s sid -Hbr Fwy 1-10-2016_1

Leslie Evans

On February 12, at the request of City Councilmember Curren Price, city workers seized three of the four tiny houses on wheels for the homeless pictured above. They were located on the 42nd Street bridge over the Harbor Freeway and around the corner on Flower Street. One escaped by being rolled away by its owner. We telephoned Elvis Summers on February 15. He built the little structures and donated them to homeless people. He said the residents were not permitted to remove their belongings, including medications, before the structures were loaded on trucks and taken away. The houses are stored on a city lot. They had been slated for demolition but it appears that protests have led to city to begin a discussion of whether to go ahead with that plan. Seven more are scheduled to be seized.


The little 6 x 10 foot wheeled structures have become one focal point in the citys uneasy balancing act between trying to find other accommodations for people living on the streets and simply dismantling their camps and seizing their property.


West Adams resident Elvis Summers first house, smaller than the ones above (and denounced as a "dog house" by City Councilmember Joe Biscaino), was for one of my homeless neighbors, a 60-year-old black woman called Smokie, who I have known for a few years.

Read more: City Seizes Tiny Houses from the Homeless

Los Angeles Finally Decides to Hire a Petroleum Administrator


Allen Company oil drill site at 814 W 23rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90007. Still closed in February 2016 pending outcome of City lawsuit and federal citations.

Leslie Evans

A long-demanded reform moved ahead in the first week of February when Council President Herb Wesson secured a vote in the City Council to hire a full-time Petroleum Administrator. Mayor Eric Garcetti responded immediately that he was already interviewing prospective candidates, seeking persons with technical expertise in oil and gas operations.

Obviously the most immediate prod to our city administrators was the three-and-a-half month methane gas leak in Porter Ranch, a neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley section of Los Angeles, that forced thousands of residents from their homes. But Porter Ranch was only the latest consequence of decisions made more than 150 years ago to allow oil and gas wells to spread throughout the residential neighborhoods of our city. It was the inevitable consequence of decades of missing oversight over an industry that normally operates far from people's houses.

Read more: Los Angeles Finally Decides to Hire a Petroleum Administrator

City Takes Some Steps to Confront Homeless Crisis



Leslie Evans


Five months after the Los Angeles city government began to debate new ordinances to confront our deepening homeless calamity, the City Council on November 18 announced its first steps. The L.A. Times in an editorial the next day declared the effort "a start, even if some of the measures are anemic."


In September the Council had promised to raise $100 million to abate homelessness in the city. The county supervisors pledged their own $100 million fund. As of the November 18 announcements the kitty contained only $16 million. Specific proposals were to set aside vacant city buildings as winter shelters and to seek out parking lots where people living in cars and RVs could camp at night, possibly with porta potties supplied by the city. These are promising beginnings, but Council members pointed out that many bureaucratic hurdles stood in the way of assigning buildings to such uses and nothing was likely to happen until the new year. One L.A. Times report suggested that the parking lots under consideration were those of churches and not city property.

Read more: City Takes Some Steps to Confront Homeless Crisis

Drastic Flaws Revealed in City and State Oversight of Urban Oil Drill Sites


AllenCo Energy oil drill site in West Adams’ University Park neighborhod.
Closed since September 2013, the company is asking to resume pumping oil.
Note the immediate proximity of residential housing just over the drill site’s back wall.
Hundreds of people were sickened before the operation shut down.


Leslie Evans

The AllenCo Energy company, whose 21-well urban oil field at 814 W. 23rd Street in the University Park neighborhood just north of USC sickened hundreds of people from uncontrolled fumes, is now pressing to resume drilling operations, shut down since November 2013. This has brought some serious media attention, revealing a shocking systemic failure of both Los Angeles and California state oversight of such urban oil operations.


The states regulatory agency, the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR), under pressure for failing to turn in reports for several years, released an audit of its work on October 8, 2015. This revealed that the agency has not conducted its required annual review of "most oil projects" in the Los Angeles area since 2007. The L.A. Times summarized:

"Seventy-eight percent of the projects in the audit did not undergo a required Area of Review. . . . Only five projects had undergone such an analysis in the last five years.

Read more: Drastic Flaws Revealed in City and State Oversight of Urban Oil Drill Sites

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