Letters to the Editor: Echo Park Lake was a jewel for immigrant families. Those days are gone

A fisherman casts his line near the idle paddleboats of Echo Park Lake.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: I write this as a teacher from Echo Park and former member of the Echo Park Neighborhood Council. Echo Park for many years was an immigrant community made up of families who had very recently arrived. (“It’s the end game for the Echo Park homeless encampment as LAPD prepares final sweep,” March 25)

Many of my students at Logan Street Elementary School were the children of families that were struggling to work and pay rent. I visited many of their homes in the 1990s and 2000s, and what I saw were entire families living in single rooms, located in buildings where the children could play only in the parking lot.

But Echo Park also had a jewel: the lake with the lotus blossoms and ducks and grass and a playground. My students talked about going to the park every weekend — “fuimos al parque,” they told me on Mondays. It’s just what you did. We also took frequent walking trips from the school to look at the lake and the ducks and to hunt for Easter eggs.


When I talk to those families now, they tell me those days are gone. They don’t have family picnics at the lake anymore. That beautiful spot is not there for them now.

I don’t know what the answer is.

Cheryl Ortega, Los Angeles


To the editor: It’s obvious that homelessness is an extraordinarily complicated issue. That said, the problem of tent living is not the least bit complicated.

Tonight, a great many people will have no alternative but to live in a tent. There will be tents in Los Angeles; the only question is where. That is certainly a manageable problem.

Forget trying to “solve” homelessness. Manage the presenting problem.

John W. Conrad, Calimesa, Calif.


To the editor: It was very fitting that one of your articles on the Echo Park sweep ends with one of the homeless squatters mentioning that he came from Nevada last year.


So is this man homeless because of high rents in Los Angeles or because of a choice he made to come here without a place to live? Why should we assume that just because someone is living in a park, or sleeping on a street near Venice Beach, they have a right to stay and live in that same area?

If your readers, and our leaders, actually cared about homeless people, they would push large-scale, low-cost tent villages in remote areas where residents could be triaged, treated and trained for work.

Spending billions on hotels and huge developments in high-end areas means we are choosing to leave tens of thousands of individuals to die on the streets when we could be helping them. And, of course, we are destroying the quality of life for the rest of us at the same time.

Keith Abouaf, Los Angeles