Overpass Passed Over

Overpass.jpg Out of the gate let me toss kudos to City Councilman Eric Garcetti for showing such an interest in Blogging.la. On several occasions he’s posted comments to B.la posts, and it’s decidedly refreshing to find a politician taking such an first-person interest in what’s going on in and around his district.

It was in that spirit of involvement and direct connection that I emailed Garcetti last week to explore the situation worsening beneath the Sunset Boulevard bridge over Silver Lake Boulevard and to inquire as to his thoughts and potential actions. See, a group of homeless people living under there block the east sidewalk with their carts and themselves, and make the west walkway almost as impassable and certainly more disgusting because that’s where they urinate and deficate. A lot. This combination of obstacles and grossness forces pedestrians to move out into traffic when they pass under the bridge.

So how did Garcetti respond? He didn’t. More than a week later, not a peep. Understanding that he’s a busy man and things happen to emails, there are no hard feelings and I’m not here to bag on him. I just figured rather than whipping off a second request to his email address, I’d post the ongoing dilemma here in a public place he’s been known to frequent and see what he might have to say.

18 Replies to “Overpass Passed Over”

  1. As a daily reader of blogging.la, I am bummed that you only gave Garcetti a week to respond. I would have given him at least two weeks, if not a month, to respond to such a real (and complex) situation. Give the guy a break.

  2. Yeah, I emailed Garcetti over four months ago, and nothing. I guess he doesn’t care about my thoughts or vote.

  3. Sorry to bum you out, Stu. And I’m sorry if you feel I’m being unfair in giving the Councilman only a week to address what I agree is a complex situation. Trouble is, that means a week’s more worth of shit/spit/piss/snot/blood/barf/booze has piled up under that bridge, so in my book time is of the essence รณ pun intended.

  4. I don’t think it should take more than a week to hit “reply” and type “thanks for your e-mail, this is a very complex situation but we’re looking into it and I’ll e-mail you later when we have a better idea what is going on.”

    The littlest bit of personal interaction goes a very long way.

  5. Here’s the text of Eric’s letter that was drafted last week to go out today. Our office has been working on the overpass for a long time, although I do appreciate Sean’s suggestion. As well as his transcontinental internet empire.

    I live just south of the overpass and I’ve crossed at the light to avoid it en route to Spaceland. It’s a real problem.

    Best,

    Josh Kamensky
    Communications Deputy
    Councilmember Eric Garcetti

    ________________________
    Dear Will,

    Thank you for contacting me about the problems in the Silver Lake/Sunset underpass. I have been working hard to address the problems in the underpass for several months. As you know, this is a very complicated set of problems, and the involvement of concerned residents such as yourself is critical to resolving them.

    As a result of complaints from residents in the neighborhood, we have requested that the LAPD (both Rampart and Northeast Divisions) increase their patrols of the Sunset/Silver Lake intersection and do targeted enforcement of public urination, blocking sidewalks, public intoxication and other related laws. The LAPD is working hard to stop any illegal activity occurring there, including any illegal sales of liquor at nearby liquor stores (for example, to minors or individuals who are intoxicated).

    We also have enlisted the help of LA Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) and People Assisting the Homeless (PATH) in doing outreach to the homeless individuals who hang out and sleep under the bridge, and in the neighborhood. LAHSA and PATH visit the underpass several times each month offering services and, in some cases, shelter to the homeless there. It often takes many months to develop the necessary trust for homeless folks to accept their help.

    In addition, our Bureau of Street Services removes trash, bulky items, and cleans the sidewalks a couple times a month. When the situation is severe, we send the police and LAHSA out with Street Services to instruct the homeless to take their belongings elsewhere or they will be confiscated. The City often has to confiscate most of their belongings on these occasions.

    Finally, we asked Street Services and the Department of Transportation to determine the feasibility of closing off the sidewalks all together. While the study was being conducted, we were able to permanently seal off the alcoves along the sidewalks under the bridge which had enabled folks to hide and build shelters. The feasibility study indicated that it would cost over $70,000 to close off the sidewalks and build new sidewalks so that the pillars would not provide cover. This is a very expensive proposition, and, at this time, the City does not have the funds to complete the project. We have also gotten mixed reviews from residents–many think it would not solve the problem and others want to preserve the pillars and the architectural character of the bridge.

    That is probably more than you wanted to know! We are trying everything we can think of and everything that residents have suggested. Please let me know if you have other ideas for how we might address these problems.

    For now, we are conducting consistent enforcement, cleaning, and outreach efforts. There are a couple things you might want to do. If you see folks blocking the sidewalk, drinking in public, or engaging in other illegal activity, call Senior Lead Officer Polehonki at (213) 793-0763. He has been working very closely with us on this issue and if he is on duty he will come out and make an arrest if necessary. In addition, I encourage you to join forces with the Silver Lake Improvement Association. They are very active on this issue as well. You can reach their meeting coordinator, Barb Dakin, at (213) 413-4221.

    Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me about this. I appreciate your efforts in keeping me informed about your neighborhood.

    Sincerely,

    Eric

    Councilmember Eric Garcetti
    Los Angeles City Council, District 13

    CITY HALL OFFICE:
    City Hall, Room 470
    200 North Spring Street
    Los Angeles, California 90012
    (213) 473-7013
    (213) 613-0819 fax

    FIELD OFFICE:
    3525 Sunset Boulevard
    Los Angeles, California 90026
    (323) 913-4693
    (323) 913-4474 fax

    INTERNET ACCESS:
    [email protected]
    http://www.cd13.com
    to sign-up Councilmember Garcetti’s E*Update
    electronic newsletter, visit http://www.cityofla.org/council/cd13/cd13optin.htm

  6. James:

    Hey there–sorry if your email got lost in the mix. I will cc you personally with this message, but did you send it to the main mailbox (garcetti @ council.lacity.org)? I just searched six months of archives (and trash) and didn’t find any message from your email address. My apologies if something went wrong. Please feel free to email me again at garcetti @ council.lacity.org and we’ll get back to you. Or you can call my field office at 323-913-4693 and speak with Ana Guerrero my district director. My personal apologies again and I look forward to hearing from you.

    Eric Garcetti

  7. Josh, Eric – Thank you very much. This is exactly what I’m talking about and I’m really thrilled that we’re lucky enough to have City Council members who know what blogs are and actually listen to us from time to time. Please keep up the great work and thanks again.

  8. I think I’m starting to get misty. Seriously. Kudos to b.la for becoming more than a simple L.A. advertiser vehicle, and to Mr. Garcetti and his staff for such blogsavvy.

    High fives all around.

  9. more proof of why eric garcetti is my most favorite public official, of any city i’ve ever lived in, ever. eric, you’re doing such a great job. i swear to god i’m gonna make eric fan t’s!

    ;)

    p.s. thanks for caring.

  10. What’s with that little forest of plastic flowers at the encampment?

    And is there a meth/whore house somewhere between the intersection of Beverly/Silverlake/Virgil up to the encampment?

    I always see the same toothless wraiths working the freeway off-ramps and larger intersections in the area.

  11. While we have the Councilman’s attention, I’d just like to reiterate what I’m sure are frequent reports about the encampments underneath the 101 fwy overpass at Silverlake Blvd., and also the Sunset bridge over Myra, though that may be out of his district.

  12. Matt, I’ll have the field rep who works on those overpasses send you a note about them. It might take one or two days, by which point this forum will pass from the front page. Feel free to repost it here (or at your site … or at hit and run …), of course.

    For anyone else who has questions about goings-on in the 13th council district, please sign up for Eric’s monthly e-news. There’s news from City Hall and there’s a neighborhood-by-neighborhood update in every issue. There are even occasional blogging.la links. And as Eric says above, feel free to send questions to garcetti-at-council.lacity.org or call District Director Ana Guerrero at (323) 913-4693.

    Links (it ate my html):
    sign up for e-news: http://www.lacity.org/council/cd13/cd13optin.htm
    read e-news: http://www.lacity.org/council/cd13/c13nps1c.htm
    (October will be up later today)
    main page: http://www.cd13.com

  13. hmm. where’s the problem. place a fucin public toilet there. in Viena the trend is to shut down public toilets and arresting homeless people for almost *no* reason @ all.
    the sulution is to live and let live. toilets for everyone. is that so hard to understand for governments?

  14. Well, that’s all well and good, but do you seriously think the drunken/stoned/zonked homeless will actually use the public toilets? Oh yeah, I guess while shooting up they would… Yes, live and let live. That worked real well in Vienna in the 30’s…

  15. I have to agree with the above. I don’t have a photo because for some insane reason I had taken my camera out of my car but I was at the intersection of Main and 1st downtown at 6 in the evening on a weekday. There used to be a row of 6-7 public toilets there presumable to deal with the construction site. I was treated to watching a gentlemen relieve himself on the sidewalk while standing next to what was presumably an entire row of empty public toilets. I guess old habits are hard to break.

  16. Homelessness is a real problem. I lived in LA until 2001 then moved to Hawaii and see that its pretty much the same any where People dont respect others rights and just do what they want… Sorry they would live in the public toilets and piss on the ground if provided.

    I think areas should be set aside for these people, and arrests should take place if they camp elsewhere. Period. I hate the idea of a homeless ghetto, but they create such a huge gross problem for the rest of us Shhesh!

    Great job pursuing this, Good luck and Aloha from the Big Island

  17. Regarding the Sunset underpass on Silverlake Blvd., I live a couple of blocks from there, and it is not nice. I cross over Sunset to avoid it. Until something can be done to get these homeless into shelters and perhaps some of them to alchohol and drug treatment, perhaps some port-o-potties placed, and maintained, (like downtown on 5th St), could help the issue of the smell and the unsanitary sidewalks.

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