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Letters to the Editor: How L.A. is effectively forcing homeless people to camp in Echo Park

Activists and residents march through the Echo Park Lake tent encampment
Activists and residents march through the Echo Park Lake tent encampment to prevent a scheduled cleanup Jan. 24.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Who wouldn’t choose a beautiful lakeside camping spot with restrooms over a cold, hard sidewalk? (“How a commune-like encampment in Echo Park became a flashpoint in L.A.'s homelessness crisis,” March 13)

It’s heartbreaking to think that people are expected to sleep on sidewalks and our city has offered them no place better to pitch their tents after all these years. Both the city and county of Los Angeles must create appropriately located, sanctioned camping areas with restrooms, drinking water, shade, security and social services.

We need leaders to immediately create designated safe camping areas for our unhoused, while at the same time continuing to create a variety of appropriately priced and sustainable housing. We also need our parks and sidewalks safe and clean, and our quality of life restored for all Angelenos.

Poor leadership has gotten us into this mess, and good leadership can get us out.

Julie Milligan, Los Angeles

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To the editor: Reading about the Echo Park Lake encampment reminded me of New York in the 1970s. The subway cars were covered with graffiti, mentally ill unhoused people wandered the streets, and couples with children fled to the suburbs. The government had simply lost control.

That is what I see here. City Hall has simply lost control.

An unacknowledged fact is these people are, to some degree, no longer homeless. Granted, they are living in homes few Angelenos would tolerate, but they have a community. It is the existence of community that makes many homeless people unwilling to move to shelters and other forms of housing.

When I see the encampments, I feel two emotions: deep sadness for what has placed these people in this situation, and absolute rage that the city has allowed this to happen and not adequately helped these people. Unfortunately, a toxic sense of “wokeness” among some groups is hindering the city from taking difficult but necessary action.

In New York, the situation eventually got so bad that the people elected a strongman mayor in Rudy Giuliani. Now, you do not see many tents on New York’s sidewalks or in most other American cities.

It is time to rapidly build housing and insist on the acceptance of that housing, and to remove the tent encampments that cover parts of L.A.

Doug Jones, Los Angeles

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To the editor: Councilmembers Mitch O’Farrell, Mike Bonin and others who have enabled these encampments should resign in shame.

This is not a housing issue, but one of misguided “tolerance” that is rendering our few public spaces unsafe and unusable. And what of future parks? Will the restored Ballona Wetlands or the revitalized L.A. River just become another encampment?

I’d encourage taking a walk along York Boulevard from South Pasadena into Highland Park, or down Huntington Drive from Alhambra into El Sereno. Notice the difference?

Other cities have managed to address this crisis. L.A.'s explanations are as preposterous as its solutions.

Daniel Cooper, Oak Park


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