Authorities are accustomed to finding homeless encampments around downtown Los Angeles.
But they weren’t ready for the nestlike spot discovered Tuesday, a “home” suspended at least 15 feet above Figueroa Street, perched on the supports of the 1st Street overpass.
The Los Angeles Fire Department had to send a ladder truck so city workers could remove more than a dozen garbage bags of personal belongings -- mostly clothing and bedding -- from a makeshift living space.
Los Angeles police officials said they checked out the bridge after receiving complaints from people who work in nearby office buildings.
Officials said they thought one man lived there, possibly for up to two years. He was nowhere to be found Tuesday.
The ingeniousness -- and precariousness -- of the spot did not surprise homeless advocates. “I don’t say ‘Wow’ anymore,” said Joel Roberts, chief executive of Path Partners, an alliance of homeless and housing agencies.
“If you’re so desperate that you have to live on the streets, you are going to try to find places that you at least feel safe. If you are sleeping on the sidewalk someplace, something could happen to you.”
Top picks, Roberts said, include out-of-the-way spots along the Los Angeles River, along train tracks for the Metro Blue Line, and the beach.
California Department of Transporation officials said homeless encampments are a perennial problem along many local freeways.
In the case of the nestlike camp beneath the 1st Street overpass, police said they thought the place had one primary occupant.
It was unclear how he was able to ascend to his perch.
Despite the cleanup, officials left behind some things. Still visible Tuesday afternoon in the midair camp was a blue laundry basket filled with clothing.