191 LA homeless camps are in high fire hazard areas
A Los Angeles task force has found evidence of 191 homeless encampments on 58 parcels of land in a report detailing high fire hazard zones, following a series of devastating blazes that engulfed portions of the city.
Peter Sanders of the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) announced on Wednesday it is in the process of identifying the locations of the land being inhabited by the homeless in the report. He also said the department is close to determining who owns the land. The report was completed on January 16, KTTV reports.
The task force, which consists of members of the LAFD, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) and the Bureau of Sanitation, is more systematic and proactive than previous city-wide efforts to identify homeless encampments in high fire hazard zones, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas have said.
On January 5, ahead of the report, Terrazas said Los Angeles “never had an organized, systematic approach like we do now.”
“We’re taking this to the next level, I want a more formalized process,” he added, according to KTTV.
Terrazas also mentioned that if LAFD came across an encampment before the advent of the task force, they would notify the appropriate departments, but stated that the LAFD did not do any proactive surveying like the task force is doing now.
The city’s fire chief said that any identified encampments would be visited by LAHSA and Bureau of Sanitation workers in order to encourage the people at the encampments to move out, while also offering them services.
The survey was completed a week and half after Los Angeles officials announced the formation of the task force, in response to the Skirball Fire in the Bel-Air neighborhood of Los Angeles, which leveled six homes. The devastating fire was believed to have been started at a homeless encampment in the city's Sepulveda Pass neighborhood in a wooded area of which city officials claimed to have been unaware.
Data released by the US Census Bureau in September says that one in five Californians lives in poverty, the highest rate of poverty in the country, the Sacramento Bee reports.