LAPD order to vacate the LA River

A few months ago Will Campbell posted about some of the decorations created by residents of the LA River – that is homeless folks who have taken over islands or riverside alcoves and made them their homes. To the casual observer they seem harmless and is anything like to just be left alone. Well the might be getting evicted. Reader Pieter Kaufman writes in and says:

“Hey guys, since I commute four days a week by bike on the bike path up and down the LA River, and I know this site cares about bikes, the river, the homeless, art, and other related stuff, I figured I’d let you know that the LAPD posted signs up and down the river between Figueroa and Los Feliz, ordering all “lodgers” to vacate and remove all their belongings by today, or face arrest for trespassing. If you haven’t noticed it, there’s a fascinating micro-culture down in the river, with all kinds of odd, quirky artifacts erected I suspect as much for its residents’ pleasure as for passers-by. I don’t know the full story–how many live there by choice, and how many use the islands as a last resort, and I don’t know if the LAPD is cracking down out of fear for their safety before the rains and the river swells and how much of it is just them being fed up, but personally, I’ve not noticed any real signs of trouble and crime, and if the people who live there are okay with it, I’m not sure why they’re being driven out. “

No images of these signs yet, but we’ll be following up on this for sure. One note – the river is County property so more likely it was the LASD than the LAPD, but we’ll confirm in a bit. Lots of Updates in the comments. Thanks!

9 thoughts on “LAPD order to vacate the LA River”

  1. They were removed yesterday, and it was the LAPD. As of this morning, the photocopied signs were still posted to the pylons holding up the high tension wires.

    Yesterday, I had a twenty minute talk with a representative of Garcetti’s office, who was present, with another staff member. They were very informative and helpful. There was also a team from a social services group whose name I missed and a team from LAHSA, who were both there to help provide shelter, social services, medical care and other services as needed. It turns out the situation was more complex than I even imagined.

    Today, a team of LA city workers was helping a team of Army Corps of Engineers with cleaning up and demolishing the homesteads. They had several big caterpillars, dump trucks and other such vehicles. It was far more than just a few shovels and garden bags. A HazMat team had to be called in to deal with the used syringes and other organic waste. Turns out that there was a drug trade connected with the river, and most of its residents were either heroin or speed adicts.

    I found out more and can try to summarize my conversations later, but am at work and can’t go into more depth right now. I also have two not very good photos of the most colorful site from two weeks ago; the area with the lounge, complete with ottoman, potted plant and carpet, the giant pink frog, Whinnie the Pooh, the garden gnomes, Tonka trucks, painted rocks, park bench, orange dragon, umbrellas, and, at night, illuminated LED apparati hanging from the trees.

  2. That river really does flood like mad from small amounts of rain, due to the concrete channeling, and also sometimes it floods from mountain storms you can’t even see from in the channel. So, yeah, it really isnt a good place for people to be living. People died in the Santa Clara river a few years back for the same reason.

  3. I would love to see those photos. I’ve often wondered what sort of world was set up in those islands. Are they on Flickr or somewhere?

  4. Why do people always get LA County Sheriff’s confused with LAPD? Come on now. Get a little more fucking nerdy about this shit you punks. Sheriff’s patrol the river, LAPD the city.


  5. As the homeless are pushed from skidrow and now the Los Angeles River. I have noticed many are moving in behind our building at Lemon and Olympic, under the Santa Monica Freeway, the past few weeks.

  6. Thanks Will.

    Here are the four photos I took. They’re pretty lousy and don’t do the scene justice at all. They’re actually from more like a month ago, and between then and Tuesday, this area of the river continued to be decorated. These pictures don’t include the orange dragon, the yellow Tonka truck (then, further upriver), and a whole assortment of additional things. Winnie eventually migrated to the park bench at the end of the island on the right and had an umbrella, there were masks dangled from the branches, LEDs in one of them…there was just more and more stuff every day.

    As of today, it’s all gone, except for the big painted rocks. A few things lie scattered downstream, stuck on shoals or rocks or branches, but everything’s cleared out, and the islands are more exposed. In the middle two photos, you can just see the edge of one of the camps; there’s a tarp and a circular object.

    Last night, there were still camp fires on the islands north of Los Feliz, but the authorities didn’t extend their work up there. They’re saving it for later.

  7. Why do people always get LA County Sheriff’s confused with LAPD? Come on now. Get a little more fucking nerdy about this shit you punks. Sheriff’s patrol the river, LAPD the city.


    Before you start handing out the pejoratives, you should probably note that the signage directs you to contact the LAPD if you have questions regarding the notice.


  8. Sorry I’m late to comment – I heard some folks throwing around the term “nerdy,” so I thought I’d chime in.

    First, what’s interesting is that the Army Corp of Engineers actually has jurisdiction/authourity over the base of the flood control channel and the County has jurisdiction over the walls and banks. At some points, at least in the City, it’s the City’s jurisdiction to maintain the banks (where improved).

    Now, the reality is, the LAPD would be the lead agency to deal with crime in the vacinity of the River because (most likely) the Sheriffs aren’t going to be able to come out based on their deployment within the City of LA (which is really only along the transit lines and at County facilities).

    The crime problem was affecting the City, so LAPD probably was working to eliminate the criminal activity by abating the nuisance. I would presume that CD13 also had a role in making sure the issue was addressed, if they were out there as Peter wrote in the comments.

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