April 4, 2019

There was ample warning given to city officials before the fire at the ElDorado nature center on April 3 2019

Most are already aware of all the publicity surrounding the fire that occurred on April 3 2019 at the El Dorado nature center. Most who use it or ride by it on the San Gabriel River (SG River) bike path are also aware that the area is fenced off from the river and for the most part inaccessible (or supposed to be) from humans. It is in an area that is meant to be "natural" and so there is no tree trimming, grass mowing or any other maintenance of those premises. As a result its a perfect place for the "homeless" ( I use that term loosely) to set up camp.Its also the perfect place for a fire to start. Police and Park rangers don't patrol that area as they rarely bike or ride down the bike path in their vehicles. The squatter camps and trash cannot be seen by passing motorists on roadways and cannot be seen well from the air. I think its ironic that this is all going on while our Mayor Garcia touts his "Everybody Home" initiative on top of the millions if not billions raised by Propositions H and HHH (Garcia touting his Imitative here in Sept 2018 and in April 2018)

Yet despite all this the city is well aware of the problem as you will see from emails below.  This is simply a case of either city management refusing to tell police to clean up the situation or worse a feeling by many at the city that since the problem is not visible to most voters to just leave it alone and wait until problems happen. As long as the problem is well hidden from the majority of voters they ignore it. These are photos sent to the city in Dec 2017 showing the destruction to the fence in the very area where the fire occurred on April 3 2019. Tearing down the fence along the bike path is the only way really for the homeless to gain access to the area where the fire occurred. People are not supposed to be in this fenced off area. This is only visible to bike riders on the SG river trail. Weekly fence damage patrols need to be done in that area.

We are aware of at least three physical attacks of bike riders by homeless on the SG River in the last few years. We have been told by police on the river not to ride down there without pepper spray. We have also been told by police that many of these "homeless" down there would have been in jail but for voter passed propositions (passed in the last few years) that allow "low level criminals" to escape any jail time. (As an aside the cops explain that courts only look at the current offence for the violence determination and ignore all prior violent convictions so the "non violent offenders" claim is bogus..here is an example) Again all homeless are NOT the same. Many are criminals, drug addicted or mentally ill. These are the ones that typically refuse help. 99% of the homeless we see down on the river are adult males between 30 and 50 years of age. No children. No families.

The city leaders of course claim that (1) they did not know about the "problems" and (2) that "the law" "prevents" them from doing "anything". They are wrong on both counts. The emails below take care of item one as well as direct face to face communications we have had with police and park rangers over the last 24 months on the problem. As for the second issue, fortunately the City of Long Beach had a large very capable bureaucratic City Attorneys office to deal with how to legally move these homeless off the trail and into shelters. But they simply don't want to be bothered with the problem until of course it blows up in their face.

The city of Lakewood is responsible for the west side of the Carson street bridge (or rather under it) and has posted no trespassing signs there on the bridge and in January 2019 removed a large homeless camp of many individuals. This camp is now once again starting to form. They have been advised of the problem and how to fix it but like Long beach they are know it alls and will not listen to citizen complaints, dismissing them as not credible or simply "we cant do anything". The Santa Ana river was filled with hundreds of homeless in 2016-2018 and that problem was cleaned up.

There is a legal process to move the homeless out of camps and into facilities. We are not talking about that many people on the SG river, no where near the daunting tasked that faced the cities on the Santa Ana river. The problem is that it has become chronic and we suspect the same individuals are causing the problem over and over again. The city needs to step up and start tackling this problem where it is least seen, not just the visible homeless on the sidewalks around city hall. Problem is cleaning up the river does not garner a lot of re-election votes as so few voters are aware of the extent of the problem.

Onto the fire issues. We have known of three fires on the SG river all in Long Beach. Im sure there are many more as most are not covered by the media and swept under the rug by police and fire depts.

FIRE 1: The first fire was around April 1 2017 and occurred at a homeless camp at the SW corner of the Carson St Walmart parking lot (photo) which was on SG River property (at the NW order of El Dorado park). It was 15 feet off the bike path. Fire and Police dept were on scene. As it was recent it was brought up at a Councilperson Mungo's public event on April 10 2017. Basically Mungo and the police (present) told everyone they could not do anything about it. You know legal stuff that none of you little people could understand.

FIRE 2: On or about November 30 2017. Again this was at another spot favored (prized) by the homeless: The east side of the Willow street bridge over the SG river just 100 feet from where the fire was on April 3, 2019. This fire was under the bridge itself, which I'm sure makes motorists feel comfortable as they traverse that bridge daily. The people living under this bridge were tossed out of there using the legal procedure Dec 13 2017 but within a month they were back again. We have talked to fire personnel in that area literally warning these homeless under that bridge of high water threats in the river but doing nothing to remove them. The problem at this bridge (like Carson st.) is well known. Every time the police and fire go down there to retrieve another dead body in the river they are reminded of the problem. The concern especially at Willow street is that gasoline generators are being used by the homeless. That's right. Gasoline. What could go wrong. No idea what "business" they are running under there but from talking with Seal Beach police in that area its mostly stolen bikes (chop shops for bikes).

FIRE 3: April 4 2019. This fire of course well documented by the media due to its size and location. the perfect place for a fire. hard to get to an no hydrants nearby (just river water which they failed to use)

The next problem that will be occurring is at the 405 freeway and the SG River. This place is notorious for homeless. Seal beach and Caltrans have cleared out a large camp (Feb 2019) at the side of the SB 605 ramp to the 405 north. A few years ago they were literally living INSIDE the freeway bridges over the river accessing them thru panels cut by Caltrans to add seismic updates to the bridge. More recently they are using the holes to store (likely) stolen bikes! A photo from March 7 2019. I would hate to see what it now looks like up inside that bridge. Wonder what internal damage they have done to the bridge itself. I know for a fact many of these homeless carry large bolt cutters and other tools to gain access to non permitted areas. Lock and fence cutting is also occurring at Carson St bridge and SG River as we write this. City of lakewood is well aware of it.

The email exchange with various council people and Long beach city officials is below along with the dates of the communications. Judge for yourself if the fire at the Nature Center was preventable by the city had they listened and taken appropriate timely action. Time has come for some real action with respect to the homeless on the river. Hopefully this fire will draw more public attention to the problem that has been well known by the city for years.

On Wed, Feb 21, 2018 at 8:36 AM, Stacy Mungo <Stacy.Mungo@longbeach.gov> wrote:

Sir or ma’am, 

We will look Into this. I have addd Councilman Supernaw as this is in the 4th and I know he’d like to keep an eye on it.


On Feb 19, 2018, at 9:46 AM, Long Beach Accountability Action Group <updates@laag.us> wrote:

On Fri, Feb 16, 2018 at 10:49 AM, Long Beach Accountability Action Group <updates@laag.us> wrote:
Sadly the fence has two new "holes" (just north of willow along river bed east side) and a sagging spot halfway between willow and spring. that sagging spot likely occurred as the fence installers did not properly secure the top of the chain link fencing to the top guide wire still in place between the poles (which you can still see in place in my blurry photo)

Here are some pics from this week. get it fixed before they start going in there again if they are not already.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Long Beach Accountability Action Group <updates@laag.us>
Date: Wed, Dec 20, 2017 at 11:06 AM
Subject: Re: Homeless issues in Eldorado Park Nature Center
To: Stacy Mungo <Stacy.Mungo@longbeach.gov>, "Stacy Mungo Councilwoman City of Long Beach, 5th District" <district5@longbeach.gov>
Cc: Pat West LB city Mgr <patrick.west@longbeach.gov>, "Marie Knight | Dir. Long beach Parks, Recreation and Marine" <Marie.Knight@longbeach.gov>


I ride by thre 3-4 days a week. They are very well hidden from above and even from bike path. military grade camouflage. One thing that would help is keep checking the chain link fence between the nature section and the river bike path. They use the bike path to get in there and have damaged the fence in at least 5 paces to gain access. Keep that fixed and they likely will stay out

As for fires that place is ripe for a fire and most of the people in there likely have lighters or other ignition sources for cooking or for smoking or using drugs

Finally even if these people cannot be locked up they can be "arrested" for most of the things they are "likely" doing and that give you the right to take all their "crap" and store it for 90 days (per ACLU cases) either way its out out of there. If you keep doing that they will get the msg. My retired cop capt friend said whenever they got a homeless person setting up they would move them out as they know more would follow and word would get out that it was a good place to camp. next thing you know its the Santa Ana river. Govt is good at kicking the can down the road and putting off problems until they are huge  and blow up.

On Mon, Dec 18, 2017 at 11:17 AM, Stacy Mungo <Stacy.Mungo@longbeach.gov> wrote:
Hi, just want you to know I’ve followed up with staff and we’ll get a response going. You bring up a good point about the fires. Thanks for your vigilance!

-          Stacy Mungo

From: Long Beach Accountability Action Group <updates@laag.us>
Sent: Thursday, December 14, 2017 8:37 AM
To: Patrick West
Cc: Mayor; Council District 5; Christine Schachter; Marie Knight; Valerie Davis; Angela McGrath
Subject: Re: Homeless issues in Eldorado Park Nature Center

Thank you Pat for responding. You are the only one that did out of all the people below. Here is an interesting news article from today on what Santa Ana is doing. of course the lazy reporter did not bother to cite the ordinance number or quote it. I found it and attached it as I know cities like to copy ordinances of other cities. Lets hope Eldo does not become the place all the Santa Ana river and Santa Ana civic center refugees head to next. And I really do fear a fire either under bridges or worse in the nature area. I bike past that area daily and see what is going on. Go take a look for yourself. they are well hidden

On Wed, Dec 13, 2017 at 2:00 PM, Patrick West <Patrick.West@longbeach.gov> wrote:
Thank for your email.  We'll make sure the appropriate entities follow up. Pat west

Sent from my iPhone

On Dec 13, 2017, at 10:47 AM, Long Beach Accountability Action Group <updates@laag.us> wrote:

I am sending this email again with new info. I want to be on record of telling the city the problem so that when this issue blows up in your face you wont be able to say you did not know about it or were not told
there was a fire under bridge at Willow (right neat nature park) on Nov 30 2017 as FD records will show. It was started by a long standing homeless camp under the east side of the willow bridge. There was another fire near wal mart at the carson st bridge in April 2017 that was brought up at the Mungo meeting on April 10 2017. Why homeless are allowed to camp IN eldorado park nature center area is beyond me. The park rangers chase out bikes, dog walkers and cars at sunset but Homeless are exempt? This is sheer laziness on the part of the LB elected officials staff and the police. enforce the park ordinances. The park is closed to ALL at sunset. Those are the rules. And I want to go on record as saying there is a very good chance the "Nature" section of the park (along the river north of willow south of Spring) has a very good chance of catching fire reading the stories below and the fires we have already had very near that section. act now. before its too late. This is not homelessness on public sidewalks or in the riverbed where APPARENTLY "different rules" apply. this is a park. I will bet that if I did not get a permit and let a bunch of boy scouts camped out in the park (esp the forbidden "nature section")  the rangers would be all over us in ten minutes rousting us out of there via their vehicle loudspeakers. This is disparate enforcement of rules that favor the homeless!! Outrageous!

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Long Beach Accountability Action Group <updates@laag.us>
Date: Fri, Nov 17, 2017 at 3:23 PM
Subject: Homeless issues in Eldorado Park Nature Center
To: "Brad Futak, LBPD Quality of Life Unit" <brad.futak@longbeach.gov>, Chris Roth LBPD Quality of Life Unit <chris.roth@longbeach.gov>, Jeanette Rowe <jrowe@lahsa.org>, "Robert Cerince, Homeless Services Long beach" <Robert.Cerince@longbeach.gov>, "Tom Kirk, LA county dept Mental Health (LACDMH)," <tkirk@dmh.lacounty.gov>, Elsa Ramos | homeless services long beach <Elsa.Ramos@longbeach.gov>
Cc: "Stacy Mungo Councilwoman City of Long Beach, 5th District" <district5@longbeach.gov>, "George Chapjian, Dir Parks, Rec, and Marine Long beach" <George.Chapjian@longbeach.gov>, "Marie Knight | Dir. Long beach Parks, Recreation and Marine" <Marie.Knight@longbeach.gov>, Meridith Reynolds | Long beach parks dept <meridith.reynolds@longbeach.gov>, Byron Brno | LBPD <Byron.Brno@longbeach.gov>, Laura Farinella LBPD <Laura.Farinella@longbeach.gov>, Liz Griffin | LBPD East Division Commander <liz.griffin@longbeach.gov>, William Lebaron | LBPD <William.Lebaron@longbeach.gov>


As you well know the homeless on the SGRT are becoming a bigger and bigger problem and now that OC has evicted all the homeless from SART we are going to get more on SGRT. So now that they are invading the Eldorado nature center (a place that is to remain pristine and natural) and filling it with trash and debris what is going to be done? They need to be moved out. Anywhere. If you keep letting them infest that area as they are doing its only going to get worse. In the last few months it has gotten worse and their numbers are increasing. This is the PARK not the river bed (different issue legally and substantively). Here is where they are at (see attached). Something needs to be done and done now. I have heard ALL the excuses form LBPD and the park Rangers. (they told me to complaint to city hall and city leaders so here I am) I dont need to hear the excuses any more. We are beyond that. Action needs to be taken now.


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