June 19, 2019

After a seond fire on June 19 2019 at the ElDorado nature center, the time for city and county officials to act has arrived

At about 5:30 this afternoon as I was headed southbound on the San Gabriel River bike path. I  noticed smoke in the area of the Eldorado Park nature center and I said to myself this could not possibly be another fire in the nature center as we just had one on April 3rd 2019 That fire was located here

As I got closer I entered the nature center and saw Long Beach Park Police driving around in their SUVs trying to figure out how to get closer to the fire. I could hear sirens in the distance of the fire trucks trying to locate the fire and how to get closest to it as it was not very accessible. They eventually did locate it and it was in the section of the park where people are not allowed to go near the off-ramp from the southbound 605 freeway to westbound Willow Street. This map shows the location of the June 19th fire to the east of the April 3 fire (about 1500 feet apart). The photos and video here show where the fire trucks are parked to fight the fire. As you can see its far enough away from the freeway that it was not likely caused by any motorist. So we concluded it was likely set by a vagrant as the one on April 3 likely was. LBPD did not catch any suspects who were likely long gone by the time they got on the scene.

Just before leaving the house today I had sent another email to Stacy Mungo's office along with Pat West and the county (see below) explaining to them that the fence along the San Gabriel River which prohibits vagrants from getting into the unoccupied sections or restricted sections of the nature center was still down in about five places where the fire department (and vagrants before them) had cut it down to fight the fire. I also saw over the last few weeks new trash in that area since the April 3rd fire and its seemed likely to me that vagrants were still going into the parts of the nature center that are prohibited to enter

The County of Los Angeles also did one of their infamous river sweeps on May 27th to try to “clean up” the vagrant problem and their “byproducts” along the river which of course is bleeding over into the El Dorado nature center, which gives them cover from the authorities

The problem is you can see from the emails is that the system that the county and Long Beach is using to deal with homeless in this particular area is not working because the drug addicted or mentally ill vagrants often refuse treatment because they do not want to be restricted in any way in their housing situation and prefer to make it on their own out on the river or in the nature center where they can start fires to cook drugs or food and sort of live out in nature sort of like in the middle of a forest.

Obviously this practice of allowing the vagrants to stay under the bridges and living in the nature center is not working and we need to have a new approach. This is not really a "homeless" problem per se it's more of a vagrant drug user petty crime problem. The homeless word is just a label masking a multifaceted causation issue and in a way is preventing realistic solutions.

That new approach needs to be that if these vagrants in these heavily restricted areas that involve public safety issues such as bridges, the nature center places (where fires can break out and are hard to reach and extinguish) and where there are oil and gas pipelines over the river attached to these bridges, refuse assistance or treatment they will have to be told that if they do refuse they're going to have to move their camp to some other place where they can be watched more closely. We cannot allow them to remain in these areas where they can create costly damage and possibly catastrophic damage.

This is the problem with the nature center there is no way for anyone to see what is going on in that thickly wooded area normal people are not allowed to go into. Same with living under freeway bridges or roadway bridges. No one can see the activity under those bridges except the occasional cyclist that happens to drive under that bridge on his bike. Those vagrants are not seen by police and they are not seen by helicopters and they are not seen by residents or motorists passing by. They are invisible 24 hours a day to do whatever they want with our infrastructure and our natural wooded areas like the nature center. Start fires, damage the infrastructure with all the tools they have (we know many have bolt cutters to cut fences and locks and gain access to non permitted areas)

Common sense says that it's one thing to have a vagrant on a sidewalk it's another thing to have a vagrant or numerous vagrants living inside a thickly wooded area that is very difficult for firefighters to reach and even more difficult for them to put out these fires because there is no nearby water for them to use other than the river. Which is why today they had to again use a water dropping helicopter. This is the same problem with the homeless living on the San Gabriel and LA Rivers where numerous natural gas and oil pipelines cross within a few feet of their encampments. If a fire were to happen in those encampments a short distance from those oil and gas pipelines that could be catastrophic results for human life and people traveling over those bridges every day.

We suspect that the reason the vagrants are allowed (by the city and county) to stay in the non visible yet restricted areas is that voters don't see them and so feel there is less of a problem. Out of sight out of mind.

"L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn admits finding the right office to call can be frustrating for people looking to report homeless problems. With the county allotting $460 million this year to homelessness-related programs, Hahn says the resources are there to get more people off the street. "What I want to see happen is more of our homeless outreach workers traversing the county of Los Angeles on a daily basis and finding people before someone has to call," Hahn said." Quote from this June 2019 article.

The homeless response situation as it's currently set up needs to change and it needs to change now. This is the second fire we've had in 2 months and it's at least the fifth fire that we've had on the San Gabriel River that is likely been started by vagrants. These last two just happened to be the most visible.

Emails sent today by LAAG just before the fire started:

From: Long Beach Accountability Action Group <updates@laag.us>
Date: Wed, Jun 19, 2019 at 4:27 PM
Subject: Re: SGR river sweep on 5/21
To: Herlinda Chico | Hahn 4th dist LA Co Field Deputy <HChico@lacbos.org>, Hahn 4th dist LA county general email <fourthdistrict@bos.lacounty.gov>, Chris Stone, Asst. Deputy Dir LA Co DPW <cstone@dpw.lacounty.gov>, Rich Armond | LBPD East Division Quality of Life Unit <richard.armond@longbeach.gov>


The 5/21 sweep was delayed to 5/27. Almost impossible to notice that it occurred. I dont see any homeless folks "gone" from Carson st to the ocean along the bike path as a result of the sweep. Some of their "trash" was taken out but that was it. Ill just assume that all "refused" "help" and were then told to have a nice day trespassing/defacing/trashing county property. We are going to need to start twisting arms when they refuse or apply some sort of consequence. All carrots wont work apparently. But the 125 beds in LB wont help either. drop in the bucket.

I dont want to tell you how pissed off people are on nextdoor.com since the so-called "river sweep". you know that. And no they are not all crazies. Most just concerned homeowners that fear encroachment of more homeless spilling out of the river.

So I hope we can increase the frequency and effectiveness of the sweeps in the near future
From: Long Beach Accountability Action Group <updates@laag.us>
Date: Wed, Jun 19, 2019 at 4:50 PM
Subject: Re: SGR river sweep on 5/21
To: Herlinda Chico | Hahn 4th dist LA Co Field Deputy <HChico@lacbos.org>, Hahn 4th dist LA county general email <fourthdistrict@bos.lacounty.gov>, Chris Stone, Asst. Deputy Dir LA Co DPW <cstone@dpw.lacounty.gov>, Stacy Mungo Councilwoman City of Long Beach, 5th District <stacy.mungo@longbeach.gov>, Pat West LB city Mgr <patrick.west@longbeach.gov>


One more point. In the 5/27 sweep no one fixed the fences along the east side of the river (which I was lead to believe was part of the sweep process). Who has fence fixing responsibility from carson to ocean on the east side of river boundary.? The county or LB or both. That fence needs to be checked weekly. the LB nature center fence still down in about 5 places since fire on april 3 2019  Amazing.   That fence being down was the reason the fire got started to begin with  https://photos.app.goo.gl/1XnnES9e2gwy2KKg9

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