About 10 dump trucks worth of trash, wood and debris were cleaned up from the Whittier Narrows Nature Center in South El Monte on Wednesday by Los Angeles County employees, who picked up after the makeshift shelters used by the homeless.
The L.A. County Sheriff's Department said the agency, along with advocates and others, started reaching out to people living in the park to get them out of the park and into medical, mental health and housing services during the previous month before cleaning crews moved in.
However, Deputy Paul Schrader told KPCC, not all of them accepted the help. More than a dozen homeless people living in the secluded area of the park were contacted, but only about three accepted some type of service, according to Schrader. There were about seven or eight makeshift shelters propped up in the area, he added
“Normally, what’s left is just their trash,” Schrader said.
He said they aren’t forced to opt for any kind of help, but they do have to evacuate the area, unless they a danger to themselves or the surrounding community.
Sometimes, he said, they are.
"Sometimes they cook in those areas — well, they do cook in those areas a lot. And the debris is a safety hazard, a fire hazard. And we've had fires in that area before, and we just want to make sure and keep everyone safe,” Schrader said.
This type of cleanup is not just done at that park. Every few months, the department also sweeps up an area by the Hollywood Bowl in conjunction with other county officials.