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Big snake discovered among belongings at homeless storage center

 A large snake found in storage bins used by the homeless to store their belongings in downtown L.A. Credit: Estela LopezAnimal Services workers were heading to a downtown Los Angeles storage space used by the homeless after a large snake -- thought to be a python or Boa constrictor -- was discovered Friday among the belongings, officials said.

A staff member discovered the snake while sorting through the items of a woman who hadn't been at the storage space in a week, said Estela Lopez, executive director of the Central City East Assn., a business improvement district that runs the facility.

The staff member opened a box and "there was this thing in it," Lopez said.

Those using the spaces are required to renew every seven days, Lopez said. If they don't, staff members move their belongings to another area of the facility.

Workers were waiting for Animal Services to determine what type of snake the animal is. Efforts to contact the woman have not been successful; Lopez said she was believed to be a first-time client and had been previously seen on the street.

Questions about homeless property were highlighted again last month when the city of Los Angeles  asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a lower-court ruling preventing the random seizure and destruction of belongings that homeless people leave temporarily unattended on public sidewalks.

The filing came after two years of legal wrangling between city officials and homeless advocates over a controversial campaign to clean up downtown's skid row, which has the highest concentration of homeless people in Los Angeles.

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— Andrew Blankstein and Kate Mather

Photo: A large snake found in storage bins used by the homeless to store their belongings in downtown L.A. Credit: Estela Lopez

 
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