The Real Cost of Homelessness
In 2016, Los Angeles Mayor Gil Garcetti proclaimed, as might an emperor or king, he would empower citizens to “transform their streets and urban corridors into vibrant, walkable spaces that reflect the unique characteristics of their communities.”
As of September 2020, Los Angeles has solved its homeless problem. The approximate 60,000 homeless encamped on Los Angeles’ streets, urban corridors, parks, and freeway underpasses vanished to be replaced by approximately 60,000 unhoused residents. Empowered by Garcetti’s hands-off the homeless order of protection issued for “public health and safety reasons,” these unhoused are reimagining their lives free of health and safety regulations and taxation applicable to the housed.
Enter Hollywood screenwriter W. Peter Iliff (Point Break, Varsity Blues, Trump’s America.)
Iliff is a homeowner and father with that rarest of 21st-century qualities, common sense. Iliff’s cozy Spanish revival home is a short walk from the Cattaraugus underpass of The Christopher Columbus Transcontinental Highway. Several months ago, hardcore addicts erected a palatial 35-foot by 10-foot hovel that blocked the sidewalk and one traffic lane in the tunnel.
The Christopher Columbus highway bisects Iliff’s neighborhood. Families living on the south side must walk through the underpass to shop along the Robertson Boulevard urban corridor or take their children to Raynier Park, both of which are on the highway’s north side. One homeless man, wielding a lead pipe, chased a father and his four-year-old boy away as he screamed he would crush the father’s skull. Another accosted a terrified young mother walking to the park with her baby in a stroller. They threatened motorists driving through, filched bicycles, and burglarized homes for months as the stench from their fetid encampment grew unbearable.
Iliff steadily received messages from moms and nannies terrified to walk through the tunnel. Iliff repeatedly petitioned the city councilman, Council President Herb Wesson, Jr., and police for help. Garcetti’s order prevented police action. Wesson, who represents a majority black and Latino council district South of the highway, ignored them.
Serendipitously, a homeless outreach group sued Los Angeles in federal court. The complaint claimed the city had failed to shelter the homeless per the terms of a $1 billion Homeless Relief Bond approved by voters. The complaint also asked the court to order Los Angeles’ removal of persons living in freeway underpasses because of exposure to excessive heat and exhaust. U.S. District Judge David Carter agreed. He enjoined the City of Los Angeles to move the homeless out of the tunnels, including the Cattaraugus underpass.
After the police arrested the Cattaraugus addicts on robbery charges, Iliff, along with his neighbors, quickly raised money on Go Fund Me to buy boulders for placement along the tunnel’s sidewalk. They wanted to keep the tunnel clean and safe. Iliff and his ‘Rebel Alliance’ removed piles of rubbish, jugs of urine, feces, and used syringes, steam cleaned the area, then set the boulders. They liberated the underpass. Families could safely pass through.
Within hours, a phalanx of homeless outreach groups with no stake in Iliff’s community bombarded Wesson’s office with demands for the immediate removal of the hostile architecture, i.e., boulders. Wesson tweeted the boulders were wrong on “so many levels” and assured the outreached that he and his team were working to remove the hostile boulders. The humanitarian outreach groups also doxed and sent anonymous death threats to Iliff and others on the GoFundMe list. Within hours, the city served Iliff with a notice to remove the boulders or face felony dumping charges. A cowardly community council condemned Iliff’s group’s action. Protestors flooded a virtual council hearing on Zoom, turning it into something akin to the Communist Chinese Struggle Sessions used during Mao’s Cultural Revolution to humiliate dissidents publicly. To avoid felony charges, Iliff suffered the humiliation of begging forgiveness for his and his neighbors’ attempt to keep their families safe.
While speaking at Iliff’s Struggle Session, an émigré from the former Soviet Union, now fighting for socially just outcomes ala Karl Marx here said, “In all of these discussions the unhoused person has been framed as some kind of intrusion or public safety hazard — he is a resident of this neighborhood and has as much of a stake in it as anyone who owns a home here.” Exactly where does this unhoused resident receive income tax, property tax, and utility bills?
The city’s overzealous coronavirus lockdown bankrupted small businesses by the thousands while allowing big box stores to operate. The result? Los Angeles’ reimagined urban corridors are deserted, like the streets in 28 Days. Peter Iliff, who tried to be reasonable in a city unhinged, awaits his fate. The addicts are moving back into the Cattaraugus underpass. All this as Garcetti, Team Wesson, the spineless City Council, the Lilliputian Board of County Supervisors, and their Pravda, the Los Angeles Times, are at work reimagining law enforcement.
Mayor Garcetti and Councilman Wesson could have fought the State Courts order without incurring political damage. Neighboring cities do not allow fetid homeless encampments to proliferate. Old rail cars could have been converted to individual shelters and kept on railroad sidings. I suspect the socialists running this city have perpetuated the homeless epidemic to further divide Los Angeles citizens. As Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals Rule #3 states, “Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy. Here you want to cause confusion, fear, and retreat.” With the housed, the unhoused, and the unhinged, at odds, madness rules the day. The only rational thing left to do is “Pray for Surf.”