A proposal to use two overwhelmed and mostly empty parking lots near the former village of Ports O’Call as a safe camping site for the homeless has been in discussion in San Pedro this month, but until ‘now she has been turned away by the landowner – the Port of Los Angeles.
Supporters from two San Pedro neighborhood councils say the area – Lots E and F, near 208 E. 22nd St. – could provide organized camping space for almost everyone who currently lives on the streets and streets. sidewalks in the city of Los Angeles.
The secure parking model would include assigned spaces, services available to help people find shelter and help, and amenities such as portable toilets and showers.
Like temporary shelters, this would also be a low barrier model that would allow people to come and go.
But port officials say the parking lots have other uses.
Port of Los Angeles executive director Gene Seroka told a recent harbor commission meeting that the lots are being used as drop zones for the ongoing construction of the promenade and town plaza. Both are necessary infrastructure that will connect to the new waterfront development, West Harbor, which is slated to lead the way this year and open in 2022.
And the lots are still used occasionally, he said, by the San Pedro fish market or other businesses in the area that need additional parking.
The lots are also close to a former “Superfund” industrial site, the GATX terminal, which has now disappeared but still fenced for surveillance, Seroka added.
“The last thing we wanted was to put every human being at risk from polluted sites and that is what it is,” he said of initial discussions with Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti on the research. temporary shelter sites.
And Seroka also noted that two temporary Bridge Home shelters, in San Pedro and Wilmington, currently have openings.
“Let’s get people to these facilities first,” he said.
The coronavirus pandemic has hit temporary shelters in the city and county of Los Angeles hard over the past year, forcing quarantines and barring any new residents for weeks at a time. Many residents have left, not wanting to go into confinement in shelters. Others who stayed lost new jobs they had just landed.
Supporters of the San Pedro Central and Coastal Neighborhood Councils, however, say using these parking lots as campgrounds would provide better access to personal assistance, including more permanent housing.
Both councils passed resolutions supporting the proposal to use the parking lots as campgrounds. The councils sent the resolutions to Seroka, the Los Angeles Harbor Board of Commissioners and LA 15th District Councilor Joe Buscaino.
“San Pedro is in urgent need of a safe and clean space,” wrote Doug Epperhart, president of the Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council, in this group’s resolution, “which gives dignity to our homeless neighbors who are currently living on sidewalks, boardwalks and streets in our community., mainly in our central neighborhood of Sn Pedro, with no temporary toilets.
San Pedro resident James Campeau said the lots, which he said could accommodate a hundred or more people, offer a promising solution to what has become a growing presence of homeless people on the streets of the neighborhood. business of San Pedro.
“I hate that homeless people are yelled at all the time,” he said. “Land is quite difficult to find. “
Potential camping areas, said Amber Sheikh, who heads the District Council of Harbor-to-Watts Homelessness Task Force, could provide a more controlled environment.
People would have allocated places, she said, which would allow social workers to locate and work consistently with people.
“But that would be a low barrier (for participation),” Sheikh said, “that’s what we also have in the temporary shelters, so there aren’t a ton of rules.”
When the idea was brought up during the working group session this month, she said, most were open to the idea.
“I’m not sure these (specific) lots could work, to be honest,” Sheikh said, “but it’s something we could lift up quickly and it would be an area where they would be safer. we can get people off the side of the road, that makes me happy.