DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES – Two shipping containers arrived today at a Skid Row parking lot where the city plans to operate a storage facility for the homeless.
A mayor’s office representative declined to comment, but according to Kevin Murray, executive director of the Weingart Center, which owns the property, the city is working out logistical details before making use of the containers, which were donated by the Port of Los Angeles.
“The city is supportive,” Murray said. “I suspect we’ll be up and running relatively soon.”
The Weingart Center, a homeless service provider, in February offered the use of the lot it leases at Sixth and San Pedro streets. Local business and community stakeholders vexed by the proliferation of homeless encampments and cluttered sidewalks have accused the city of being slow to act on the Weingart’s offer.
Officials in the office of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa have said that the city is working on a comprehensive plan to address public health and safety concerns tied to sidewalk encampments. The lack of storage space has been perceived as a key obstacle to cleaning the streets.
A federal injunction issued last year bars the city from seizing and destroying apparently abandoned property in Skid Row. The injunction mandates that any items taken from sidewalks must be stored for 90 days before they are trashed.
Jane Usher, a special assistant to City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, said the containers are one piece of a multi-pronged plan to address public health concerns in Skid Row.
The arrival of the containers follows the release of a County Department of Public Health report detailing a range of health code violations in the poverty laden area, including a proliferation of discarded needles, human feces and vermin burrows.
Contact Ryan Vaillancourt at firstname.lastname@example.org.