Earlier today, We met up with Matt Bennett, the Projects & Mitigation director for ANGC. We have been in contact over the last few weeks regarding the homeless camps in the Wash and the large amount of trash that is accumulating there.
We had decided that a hike through the area would be a good way for us to compare notes on the camps and discuss possible ways of dealing with the problem.
Our first stop was Margret’s camp, which is actually several camps that lie out in the open and are basically trash debris sites located near each other. Margret, who suffers severe mental health issues, routinely moves from one camp to another. She was there sleeping.
We then moved on to another known camp that had been cleaned out a few weeks ago and found that the previous occupant had returned.
We visited a few other camps as well that are either new or have been reoccupied.
The homeless problem is difficult to resolve for so many reasons. Most of the homeless in the Wash refuse to accept help from the Housing Authority or the many agencies/charities that exist. When the homeless are moved out of the Wash, they just return as soon as the next day, or move into other areas. Really, the best anyone can do is to try and keep a regular schedule of cleaning out the trash and the camps so that the damage is somewhat contained.
Matt explained that ANGC is planning another clean out within a couple of weeks. They have to coordinate with the LAPD, the Housing Authority, the Bureau of Sanitation, CD2, and other agencies each and every time they undertake a clean out. They also will be bringing along a biologist to assess the status of the endangered spineflowers that grow in the Wash.
Matt also said that the ANGC is likely just a few weeks away from turning this area over to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.
Hopefully, the SMMC will have less hoops to jump through in order to restore the Wash and deal with the camps. At our suggestion, the ANGC is going to attempt weekly clean outs until such time as the property is transferred over to SMMC. The hope is that if the Wash is clean when the property changes hands, then the SMMC will see the standard by which the community expects the area to be maintained.
We hope to attend each clean-out so we can post photos of the tremendous amount of work involved and keep you posted on the conditions in the Wash.
Our thanks to Matt Bennett for his generous and well spent time today.