Homeless residents and advocates are bracing for the city of Los Angeles to close Echo Park Lake and clear a tent community that has become a flashpoint for debate over the city’s responsibility towards homeless encampments.
The coalition of community organizations, Services Not Sweeps, and people who live at the park say they have heard from sources at the city that the announcement to shut the park down will come on Wednesday and will presumably include a timeline for evictions.
“They’re doing it all in secret,” said Ayman Ahmed, who added that he has lived at the lake for more than a year.
A spokesman for City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, who represents the area, would not confirm that timing, but indicated a closure was imminent.
“We are working with several City departments to temporarily close the park to repair more than half-a-million dollars in damage,” said Tony Arranaga. “When the official notice of the closure is posted by the Department of Recreation and Parks, our office will alert the public and the media.”
Arranaga emphasized that O’Farrell had partnered with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority to place “more than 100 people living at the lake into safe housing and shelter” in recent weeks through Project Roomkey, Project Homekey, and shorter term shelter beds.
“[The park] will close soon, and notices will go up, and then we’ll all know,” O’Farrell said today at an unrelated press conference when asked about the rumored city cleanup.
Ahmed estimated the current population of the encampment on the north side of the park to be about 50 people, not counting those living in cars and RVs parked around the lake. He’s planning on joining his neighbors and advocacy groups in a protest planned for 7 a.m. on Wednesday.
With files from LAist