A few weeks ago, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health inspected an area of Los Angeles’ skid row, located in downtown Los Angeles, and found that the area was aptly named: it contained drug needles, used condoms, rat infestations, and human feces. City officials cleaned it up; the health inspectors then went back for another look.
And the area was worse than before.
“The human feces are certainly very disturbing, as are the hypodermic needles,” lamented Jonathan Fielding, the county’s top public health official. “The situation appears to have worsened.”
Now taxpayers will have to pay for the streets to be power-washed every week. The skid row camps, which doubled as Occupy protest camps a few months back, have created a risk of meningitis and other communicable diseases.
“From the city’s point of view, we have a public health crisis,” said Special Assistant City Attorney Jane Usher. “There are such vast quantities of materials deposited on the streets and sidewalks.”
Why aren’t these polluters arrested? Because there is a judicial injunction that prevents police from seizing abandoned property from the residents of skid row. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is now looking at the injunction. Instead, the city is supposed to clean up after people who poop on the streets. And California residents are supposed to pay for it. In fact, the situation has gotten so bad that, when city officials try to clean up the streets, random residents of skid row will pop up and claim that the refuse is their personal property, thereby preventing the city from cleaning up the mess.
The injunction is so bad that Union Rescue Mission has complained that it is responsible for the buildup of human waste and garbage throughout the area, since the police can’t do anything about it.