Several city departments will conduct another scheduled cleanup Wednesday at Echo Park Lake, a site where previous cleanups focusing on homeless encampments have been contentious.
“All city parks must be kept clean, safe and accessible for people of all ages and income levels,” Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell said, “People who are experiencing homelessness at Echo Park Lake will continue to be offered services while we work on securing temporary indoor shelter and ultimately permanent housing.”
O’Farrell’s office said the maintenance day, set to begin at 8 a.m., is to ensure the park is accessible and to conduct outreach to homeless people and educate the public on the laws.
An alert for the maintenance was posted Monday at the park, where the city will require all personal belongings to be outside of the service area while operations are underway.
In addition to park rangers and staff, a CARE team made up of personnel from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority and LA Sanitation and Environment will be on site to assist with outreach, removal of hazardous material and to ensure safe passage on the sidewalks in the neighborhood surrounding the park.
A group of homeless people sent a letter to O’Farrell in January, asking him to find a way to let them stay at Echo Park Lake overnight as long as they promise to keep the park clean and not be a nuisance to visitors.
The letter says: “We did not end up unhoused by choice, nor do we desire to stay on the streets forever. At this point, there is no viable option for shelter within or near (Council District) 13 for all of us. Many of us have tried to enter the shelter system elsewhere and do not feel safe or comfortable returning to those places.”
During a cleanup in late January in the area where people without permanent shelter have taken up residency, members of the group confronted park rangers and crew members, with members of advocacy groups on hand for support.
O’Farrell recently introduced a motion to expand the hours for use of the Echo Park Lake restrooms on the northwest corner of the park for 24-hour access for six months in order to address “urgent hygiene and public health needs,” and to dedicate more than $560,000 for the resources.
People living at Echo Park Lake who need assistance with housing can call O’Farrell’s office at 213-207-3015. Callers will be asked to provide the name and number of their LAHSA case worker to help expedite the process.