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RESEDA : Encampment Cleaned Out by Authorities

Police-led crews cleaned out the remains of a homeless camp Wednesday in a parking lot between Etiwanda and Lindley avenues south of Sherman Way.

The cleanup effort followed a two-week sweep in which police arrested 13 people in and around the parking lot, most on suspicion of drug- or alcohol-related crimes, said Los Angeles Police Officer Mark Pryor.

Pryor said police receive frequent calls from neighbors complaining about noise, odors and property crimes around the site. The calls are so frequent, he said, that crime sweeps of the area have become a routine part of his job.

“It’s a mess and it’s always been a mess,” Pryor said. “Whenever I get it cleaned up it takes about a month before another homeless family moves in.”

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The parking lot, which once adjoined a department store when downtown Reseda was a more upscale shopping area, now backs a strip of small shops, including a swap meet and a psychic’s office.

Rayna Gabin, field deputy for City Councilwoman Laura Chick, said the problems in the parking lot are too entrenched for police to solve on their own.

At Gabin’s prompting, city building inspectors recently ordered two property owners to pave an unpaved and pitted portion of the parking lot. Others were ordered to clean up debris, she said.

“People are afraid to go back there because of the transients,” Gabin said. “Police find needles back there, empty beer bottles. There are campfires back there, furniture--I even saw a wheelchair back there.”

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Wednesday’s crews cleaned up cardboard, blankets, furniture and other debris left by the last encampment of homeless people.

Pryor said he’s hopeful that pressure on property owners will finally bring some changes to the parking lot and remove the burden on police.

“Maybe this will do it,” he said.


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