A Westchester resident wrote Circling the News on August 31, “Just when we thought we could breathe a sigh of relief, we were pulled in again.”
According to the resident, a Tuff Shed (small storage structure) was delivered to Westchester Park on August 30 and two men put it together so that a couple could move in.
The next day, two more men brought a load of lumber to the park and started building a structure. When a local resident walked over to find what was going on, a woman shouted, “This is our land, and we are taking it back and building tiny homes.”
Residents called L.A. Recreation and Parks, the park rangers and LAPD and within hours that structure was bulldozed, and the shed moved to a parking lot.
Residents wondered who was spearheading this construction because the shed and the wood were expensive and did not seem like something a homeless person could afford without financial support.
Before visiting Westchester Park on September 3, your CTN reporter was warned, “Be aware — people have become more entitled and aggressive.” Residents said that when the editor of Westside Current went onsite to investigate, a transient tried to grab her phone.
At the municipal tennis center, a young female instructor has been harassed and followed by a transient. Young girls taking lessons have seen a penis poked through a fence, as men relieve themselves next to the courts.
After being occupied by homeless encampments for months, the ballfields have been fenced off, and are scheduled for renovation. Supposedly they will be completed by October 1, but nothing has started yet. The grass fields have patches of dirt and numerous gopher holes.
One resident asked, “Why are our tax dollars being wasted? Why was this field let go, so now money had to be spent to remediate it?”
Councilman Mike Bonin’s office, which is at the corner of the park (Lincoln and Manchester), does not have homeless tents and people around it. But just across the parking lot and on the library lawn there are transients, with garbage, broken down vehicles, tents and makeshift structures.
The senior center remains closed, and the parking lot with handicapped spaces is filled with vans and garbage. “It’s not safe for seniors,” a resident told CTN.
When asked why transients were allowed to occupy handicapped parking, a resident said, “Bonin won’t let LAPD enforce it.” And then added, “I’m starting to lose hope.”
CTN talked to Bill, a homeless man, who was sitting in the parking lot, near the senior center, where he has lived the past 10 years. He’s not happy about the influx of new transients in the parking lot area and says some of them are not nice to him. “They told me that ‘we own this park,’” he said.
“We got a lot of people from Venice, because they chased them out,” Bill continued. “They aren’t from here. More than half are not even from California.” He graduated from Westchester High School and considers the park and the area his home.
Accumulating garbage is starting to overwhelm not only the parking lot, but park lawns. Residents say there has been an upswing in vermin in nearby neighborhoods.
The swimming pool, which has a box for a needle exchange by the bathroom, was closed because of the chlorine shortage, but recently reopened. A resident shared a photo of a person shooting up by the bathroom, which has led many parents to avoid the pool area.
On the airport side of the pool parking lot, a safe parking spot has been set up. The theory is that anyone living in their car can come to the park and sleep safely, knowing there’s a guard on site and that there are facilities. Anyone using the area has to come in by 10 p.m. and leave in the morning.
Residents say the space can hold 25 cars, but the most they have ever seen has been about 10.
“Now the City wants to open another safe parking space, but no one is using this safe parking,” a resident said, noting that cars/vans are in the parking area and parked overnight—just not in the safe space area. (Visit: https://www.safeparkingla.org/about-spala.)
“My complaint is, Where is the data? Where are the statistics that this is working?” the resident said.
Westchester residents want to know when this Recreation Center area will once again be safe for children and seniors.