August 13, 2020

Third fire (that we know of) at the Eldorado park nature center August 12 2020

So here we are once again reporting on a fire at the El Dorado nature center on August 12, 2020 (approx 445pm). Pictures here. LB fire tweet here. The fire was in this approx location. When we spoke to the LB Park Ranger on scene blocking the southbound bike path at Spring St. we asked if this fire was due to homeless activity in the nature Center and he said "most likely". The two prior fires were April 3 2019 and June 19 1019 that WE KNOW of and there have most likely been others that were never picked up by the media (like this one). Long Beach city staff and Long beach city council (Mungo and Supernaw; the nature center in Supernaw's district; north of spring St Eldlorado park is in Mungo's dist.) are well aware of the problem (we raised the fencing problem and potential fires in the nature center as far back as Dec 2017 with Mungo and Supernaw as well as city Manager) and we were led to believe that Supernaw's office was going to develop some secret plan with LB Fire dept to fix the issue in the nature center.

The nature center (the restricted area here) is a very problematic area for fires. It is filled with brush and hundreds of very dry trees. It is very hard to access (being a no trespassing area) and in previous larger fires water dropping helicopters had to assist. There are also no hydrants in the area and fences usually have to be cut by the FD to access the area (as was done yesterday) these of course are left unpaired for months on end. So all we need for an out of control fire is lots of dry conditions (8 mo out of the year) and wind. That could cause the entire nature center to go up in smoke. Highly feasible if conditions are right and FD response is delayed to to slow reporting (likely).

So other than complete inaction (ineffectual action) by the city council what are the causes and solutions?

The homeless problem (the criminal element parts of it at least) on SG River and in the area of the nature center is well known. We suspect the LB park rangers and LBPD have been told to leave them alone (based on discussions we have had on this topic with officers). Part of the reason we feel the city takes a "hands off approach" is that not a lot of people (voters) can see the problem on the river and in the nature center as its very well hidden from everyone's view except for the few people who live very close, or walk, run or bike ride on the river path. So the city leaders would just as soon leave the homeless there than chase them over to in a visible are on the street that more voters will see (and demand be fixed).

The city (and county) use the Boise case (Martin v. City of Boise, 902 F. 3d 1031 - Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit 2018) to try to excuse their politically correct stance on the homeless criminal element that are living in NO TRESPASSING areas. The Boise case says nothing about removing people from and keeping people out of no trespassing areas. It simply holds as follows:

"Our holding is a narrow one. Like the Jones panel, "we in no way dictate to the City that it must provide sufficient shelter for the homeless, or allow anyone who wishes to sit, lie, or sleep on the streets... at any time and at any place." Id. at 1138. We hold only that "so long as there is a greater number of homeless individuals in [a jurisdiction] than the number of available beds [in shelters]," the jurisdiction cannot prosecute homeless individuals for "involuntarily sitting, lying, and sleeping in public." Id. That is, as long as there is no option of sleeping indoors, the government cannot criminalize indigent, homeless people for sleeping outdoors, on public property, on the false premise they had a choice in the matter."

The city and county will have to commit to keeping all the fencing repaired in that area. They know areas with cut fencing is a sign that homeless are in a no trespassing area but they then refuse to remove them and until removed the fence will keep getting cut. The city and county need to commit to a homeless trespassing removal program and a fencing check/repair program. They likely wont do it. Its not a budget issue its simply an issue of unwillingness to actively solving the problem. Could also be a problem with public unions not wanting to do the work (can never rule out public union pressure when extra work required; public unions are big campaign contributors as well). The other excuse now being thrown around is "covid 19" ..."we cant interact with homeless due to Covid..." (covid is now the generalized excuse for everything in government) Of course Covid did not stop them in interacting with BLM protesters or even in interacting with taxpayers in general.

The other problem as we have discussed before is that when the city or county encounters homeless people in no trespassing areas even if they have beds available (under Boise) they will not force the people to take them and they wont remove them from the no trespassing areas (like the nature center which excludes even taxpayers). This is even true in instances were they know the homeless person is a threat to others (this has been documented) This is an example of how government entities (via their employees) give uneducated voters false interpretations of case law and statutes to excuse inaction (very common with police). Lakewood on the other hand does remove trespassing homeless from the west side of the Carson St. overpass over the SG river. Its amazing to see the difference in approaches to the problem. Same laws. Different interpretations.

So until voter pressure forces the city council to do its job the fires will continue. Lets hope the city wises up before the entire nature center is lost to a fire. It will take years to recover from that as nothing will be done to fix it once it burns down.

As an addendum to this story above this is an interesting note on the Azusa ranch fire This was initially reported to us by one of our loyal readers after hearing it on KFI radio... "It was reported about 2:45 p.m. near North San Gabriel Canyon Road and North Ranch Road, according to the Azusa Police Department and the Los Angeles County Fire Department, which called in a second-alarm response. At least two residents said the fire began after a fight between two people at a homeless encampment in the river bed area.

"They were arguing over a bike," said resident Jimmy Pockets. "Things got escalated to where the fire started. It took off so quick."...Fire officials have not determined a cause..." Given where the fire started this seems highly plausible.

Update: A witness who lives in a riverbed near Mountain Cove told NBC4 an argument between two homeless men sparked the fire."There were two gentlemen in the back (of a homeless encampment) fighting and they were arguing over a bike and one guy said he'd burn the other guy out, and things got escalated to where the fire started," evacuee Jimmy Pockets told the station. "Ran over to try to put it out but it just took off so quick."

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