Authorities sweep Hollywood Hills for homeless encampments
Jay, a homeless man sleeping near a Hollywood freeway on-ramp, awoke to the voices of police Friday morning.
Los Angeles Police Department officers Julie Nony and Paula Davidson had rooted out an encampment of nine transients — including Jay — who were sleeping along the Highland Avenue onramp to Highway 101.
Nony and Davidson were part of a team of roughly two dozen officers and sheriff's deputies who fanned out across Hollywood on Friday, trudging through wildland hills and along freeway embankments looking for homeless people. The transients were told to move out, but also offered social services.
“Time to get up,” Nony told Jay. “Are you on parole or probation?”
“I promise not to buy drugs,” read one.
In all, officers removed 25 transients and cited four of them for misdemeanors Friday. In one case, officers hiked with a man into the hills well above the Hollywood cross, overlooking the Ford Theatres and the Hollywood Bowl, and helped him carry out luggage, several plastic bags of his belongings, sleeping bags, a tent, and a Darth Vader mask. They drove him to a homeless shelter.
In hilly areas of Hollywood, the homeless start fires, which are a danger to area residents and the transients themselves, said Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Elkins.
In the urban areas, “we’re getting hit by property crimes,” such as auto break-ins and home burglaries, said LAPD Capt. Bea Girmala, commander of the department’s Hollywood Station. “The suspect descriptions, when we get them, are often of transients.”
“This is the United States of America,” Girmala said, “and we have people living in the bushes.”
Hollywood has long been a magnet for homeless people. The area offers social services, police said, and is far from the drugs and violence of downtown’s skid row.
“You walk through skid row and everybody is just bombarding you with drugs,” said Jay, the homeless man.
Almost half of the people officers removed declined any services and walked off into the city, their belongings in aquamarine plastic bags provided by police.
“We have to bring [the resources] to them,” said Girmala. “Sometimes we strike out.”
-- Sam Quinones
Photo: People Assisting the Homeless (PATH) outreach workers Tyler Mostul, left, and Joshua Orem, second from left, along with Deputy Sheriff Jason Elkins, wake up Francis Evans, 70, who was found sleeping in the grass on a hillside across the way from the Hollywood Bowl. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times