City officials confirmed that another phase of the cleanup of homeless encampments in the Sepulveda Basin will take place Wednesday.
The basin has been monitored by the city frequently since fires erupted last summer throughout the wildland area, which is leased by the city from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation and Environment officials said the cleanup is expected to start around 8 a.m.
Homeless people have been cleared from Sepulveda Basin in three other areas because it’s designated as parkland that closes at dusk and reopens at dawn.
LASAN officials have broken the basin’s cleanup into separate phases. The first phase was to clean out areas near the Sepulveda Basin Sports Complex, the second was around Haskell Creek and the third phase was near Bull Creek.
But this last phase is in a place where the public is never supposed to enter, according to city officials, because it is in a floodplane near Encino Creek, and that can be dangerous for human habitation in the event of heavy rains.
Hundreds of homeless people have been identified as living in the Sepulveda Basin by local advocacy organizations, and there could be as many as 100 still inhabiting the area.
Sepulveda Basin was subject to fires last summer that charred dozens of acres. The most recent fire occurred Oct. 24, burning about 60 acres. Another fire burned 10 acres in July, days before the first scheduled cleanup, with some propane tanks spotted in the burn area, increasing the danger for fire crews.
The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority and the nonprofit organization LA Family Housing have been referring homeless people who have been removed from the basin to housing services. The number of people who have been referred to services from the basin since last summer was not immediately available, but LAHSA staff told City News Service they would release that data when it is available.
In addition to LASAN’s cleanup and outreach CARE and CARE-Plus teams, Los Angeles Police Department and park rangers have been assisting with enforcement during cleanups.
Although Los Angeles challenged a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling in a case known as Martin v. the city of Boise, the city cannot remove homeless people from public areas unless they have shelter or housing for them, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case in December. But the city does have safety measures in place that do not allow people to reside in high-risk fire zones and floodplanes.
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