By CINDY SIMON
I am returning from five days in New York City where I once again saw zero homeless tent encampments.
What I did see were parks and green spaces being enjoyed by young and old. Benches filled with senior citizens reading the newspaper, teens chatting away on their cell phones and families sharing a snack. (Yes, people need to do a lot better picking up their trash, but that’s an easy one to solve. )
Instead of enjoying these tranquil scenes, my brain twists with the anxiety of “Why don’t we in LA enjoy our common spaces this way?
Why do we battle night and day to point out to anyone who will listen (does anyone listen?) that this is what we expect and deserve, instead of the status quo of parks, playgrounds and beaches filled with homeless encampments: benches with inebriated folks laying across them, sidewalks with barely responsive persons splayed across them who are allowed to stay there when they refuse assistance?
When the police stop by and poke the guy on the ground and then turn around to leave him, passers-by ask “Why is he not being moved?” The police respond, “He wants to stay there. What are we supposed to do, kidnap him?”
(Editor’s note: Simon and this editor have both come across people lying on a sidewalk that appear to be unconscious and 911 was called. The first thing operators ask one to do is to see if the person will respond. It seems counterintuitive to nudge someone with a foot or shake them. If you tell the 911 operator, you’re concerned about doing that, they will send police or paramedics. In both cases, Simon and CTN waited until help arrived and then watched as first responders left the scene and the person was left on the sidewalk.)
In LA our politicians are feeding us a story that due to housing costs, we should not be surprised by the growing tent encampments, indeed we should allow them since these folks have “nowhere else to go.” Hotels which normally would serve low income people traveling through our city are now made available to transients who may or may not want to stay there… for free.
Yet in NYC – the largest, most diverse and most expensive city to live in the U.S. (world?) there are no tent encampments.
Each time I return to LA, the disregard of following the natural rules of a civil society (i.e. it’s not ok for a person to remain splayed across the sidewalk, duh) screams out at me.
Yesterday, in New York, I was walking from Soho down to Battery Park – and what was I struck by… the daffodils and tulips about to bloom? NO, I was struck how every street had a long installation of bench seating block after block with no bodies draped over them.
The police were everywhere but in a good way – like in a protective manner that a civil society welcomes.
In LA, some media and progressives push the narrative that police presence means immediately someone’s rights are challenged. Law enforcement having a person’s best interest in mind is constantly being questioned. It must be exhausting.
I’m reminded how good it is to travel as my outlook and senses are awakened.
I become more convinced that Los Angeles and California have been sold a bill of goods from many on the fringes of the far left (which the media seems to give a lot of attention) that have caused our neighborhoods and communities to devolve into lawless shells of themselves. We are made to feel guilty and privileged if we voice any opposition to this.
Thank God for the dedicated work of PPTFH (Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness) and for all who financially support this effort … but we should not be an island amongst the chaos.
The current city leadership made up of circulating politicians must be swept out of office. It is time to consider candidates who have a different mindset with a focus on quality-of-life issues. Those currently in office have taken us to the brink with their gaslighting and “it’s impossible” “no can do” “no funding available” and – the absolute worst – “nonresponsive” attitude.
I feel NOW is the time for likeminded people to unite in a citizen uprising for change … a return to enforcement of quality-of-life issues which can most certainly be accomplished at the same time as serving the neediest. Our beloved Los Angeles and California deserve nothing less.
(Editor’s note: Cindy Simon is a long-time resident of Pacific Palisades and was a co-founder of Dollies Making a Difference, which made and sent dolls and teddy bears to children in need. She and husband Bill Simon helped the Palisades YMCA purchase Simon Meadow in Temescal Canyon in 2007. And as a cardboard artist, each year she creates an upcycling public art installation at Simon Meadow.)