City will clean up Koreatown hoarder home with trash piled eight feet high

A home in Koreatown is piled with belongings
A Koreatown home on South Harvard Boulevard is piled with belongings.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

The cardboard boxes, aluminum cans and other garbage are stacked 8 feet high in the Koreatown house’s front yard, obscuring the front windows and threatening to spill onto the sidewalk.

Neighbors say they have been complaining to city officials for years.

On Tuesday, the homeowner, a woman in her 90s, agreed to allow city workers to clean the yard, starting Thursday, a city attorney spokesman said.

The woman’s son, who lives with her and would not give his name, said he wants to recycle the cans and other items piled in the yard.


He takes care of his mother and occasionally repairs bicycles at a shop in Cypress Park.

“A lot of people say, ‘You’ll probably only get $20 for some of this stuff,’” he said, a black bandanna covering his face. “But $20 is $20.”

Now, with the city set to clean up the property, he is sure he will not make any money from recycling.

Leticia Ruiz has lived next door to the home on Harvard Boulevard since 1981.

As she sat on her front porch, boxes, cabinet doors, glass frames, cardboard tubes and other trash towered over her driveway.

The problem has gotten worse recently, she said. She is embarrassed to have guests over. She has seen rodents and roaches roaming the trash pile and wants the city to provide pest control after the cleanup.

“I wrote to the mayor and the city’s planning department, to code enforcement, just so many different departments, and I heard nothing,” Ruiz said.

Neighbors say they have worked together for years to address the situation, and this is the first time the city has taken action.


In August, one of their messages finally got through.

The cleanup is expected to be completed by Monday, said Karly Katona, chief of staff for Los Angeles City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas.

Ridley-Thomas’ office will find money for the cleanup, “given the inability of the property owner to address the public health and safety concerns.”

The city will coordinate with the county public health department’s environmental division on pest control, Katona added.

Ridley-Thomas was suspended by his colleagues last month after he was indicted on conspiracy, bribery and other charges. Katona is acting as the office’s caretaker.

In addition to officials from the city attorney’s office, paramedics and county mental health officials arrived Tuesday to check on the elderly homeowner.

Dwayne Jones, who has lived in the neighborhood for more than six years, is concerned that after the trash pile is cleaned, it will rise back up again.

“Hopefully, if it’s addressed this time, then it stays clean,” Jones said.