Personal Aversion

As much as I want to go, I also slightly dread returning to Los Angeles next February. I have more than four months to plan my trip, in order to accomplish what I intend to do while there. It will be a vacation of sorts, with only limited professional obligations. There are a few touristy follies that I have somehow always neglected, which I will now prioritize. I should be completely pleased with anticipation. I almost am.

However, I do not want to observe the situation with the unhoused Community there. It has become so prevalent. It can be oppressively saddening to see so many people in such unpleasant conditions. Although most other social conditions of many regions of Los Angeles have improved since I first visited in about 1986, homelessness has increased substantially. It can not be ignored.

Some encampments of the unhoused have become somewhat perennial within their respective situations. Some have been established long enough for vegetable gardens to produce vegetables for more than a single season. Although most encampments are reasonably neat, some that are inhabited by those afflicted with severe mental illness are deplorable and hazardous. People should not live like that.

Furthermore, those who work and inhabit residential buildings (such as houses and apartments) in regions where homeless encampments are established should not need to contend with such hazardous and unsightly conditions, especially since living there requires such significant expenditure.

As difficult as homelessness seems to be in our Community, it is overwhelming in more populous Communities. There are no simple solutions.

That is the source of the slight dread associated with my return to Los Angeles. I intend to enjoy my vacation, but I also expect to be somewhat saddened at times. Society should have evolved enough by now to remedy such problems.

Gentrification

Clients sometimes ask me if I can recommend a qualified arborist, gardener or landscape designer. (I am a horticulturist and consulting arborist.) For many years, I have been unable to do so. Some clients inform me that they spent millions of dollars on their home, so are willing to spend whatever is necessary to maintain the associated trees and gardens. Their expenditure is irrelevant. I still can not recommend qualified horticultural professionals who are not already overwhelmed with the demand for their respective expertise.

The problem is that horticultural industries are not lucrative. Most who are employed with such industries do not earn income that is sufficient to afford to live here or anywhere within practical proximity. (It is rather ironic for a region that had formerly been famous for horticultural commodities.) Consequently, they must live and work elsewhere.

This is one of the few problems associated with gentrification. Those who can afford to purchase expensive homes can not purchase what is not available to them. That is why so many formerly elaborate home landscapes now appear to be inadequately maintained. People who might be wealthy by the standards of other Communities seem to live in squalor locally. Their equity would be more useful and enjoyable elsewhere.

Gentrification also contributes to increasing rates of houselessness, as many more of those who become deprived of a respective domestic situation, for any reason, are unable to procure another. Not only are mortgages and rents prohibitively expensive, but they are reserved for those who are already established within a Community, with exemplary credit and comparably exemplary rental history. Sadly, the loss of a domestic situation typically compromises both credit and rental history.

Gentrification certainly has many advantages. However, those who benefit from it must unfortunately contend with a few of its innate disadvantages.

Live In Fear IV

This is becoming too much like a miniseries. To disrupt the monotony, we could consider the alternative to choosing to living in fear. After all, that is what most people prefer to do. They appreciate the Community in which we live. The climate and scenery are certainly assets also. Actually, there are many reasons why we live where we do. There are a few unpleasantries that occasionally instill major fear, such as the CZU Fire, the Loma Prieta Earthquake and the Love Creek Mudslide; but most of us prefer to fear them only when justified.

Society is certainly not perfect. That applies everywhere. There is always some degree of social problems such as crime, mental illness and homelessness. Few choose to live in fear of these imperfections. Most prefer to enjoy their particular society, and contend with social problems only as necessary. Precautionary measures, such as home security systems, are not necessarily indications of irrational fear, but are generally employed by those who prefer to be less concerned with undeniably present social problems.

Society certainly should not be completely derided for its innate imperfections. It is more than redeemed by its assets. Otherwise, people would not want to live in societies or Communities such as ours. To the contrary, most people in most Communities believe that their respective Community is the best of all, simply because they would prefer no other. That is likely how it should be, in a Community in which most choose to not live in fear.

Those with the least, particularly those lacking a domestic situation (the unhoused), can attest to how exemplary our local Community is. The graciousness and generosity exhibited here is astounding. It is understandable that so many of us believe that this is the best Community in which to live and participate.

Live In Fear III

As mentioned last week, “Those who choose to live in unrealistic or unjustified fear seem to be rather deficient of common logic.” This is exacerbated by their ignorance of such deficiency, or worse, by their innate but unfounded belief that they are somehow more logical than others of the Community.

For example, many of those who choose to live in unrealistic or unjustified fear want all homeless encampments to be demolished without a plan for those who would be displaced by such demolition. They simply do not understand how important planning is, or that a lack of planning is contrary to the intended results of the unplanned demolition that they want.

No one wants homeless encampments within the Community. Those who inhabit such encampments, including the few who do not require domestic situations, would prefer more stable lifestyles. Neighbors understandably dislike the unsightliness. In some regions, the associated fire hazard is a major concern.

Logical people realize that the unplanned demolition of homeless encampments will not help any of the inhabitants of such encampments be any less homeless than they already were. They understand that the expensive process merely relocates the unsightliness of homelessness, but does not eliminate it. Logical people who are truly concerned about the fire hazard associated with homeless encampments would prefer to confine such hazard to less combustible and relatively manageable regions, rather than relocating such hazards to more combustible forested regions outside of town.

There are no simple remedies for all homelessness. Logical people understand that. Those who choose to live in unrealistic or unjustified fear do not, and some seem to be intent on preserving the very same dysfunction that they choose to fear with such dedication. Perhaps that is quite sensible. What would they do without the unrealistic or unjustified fear that they choose to live in?

Live In Fear II

“Those who choose to live in fear have the option of relocating to someplace where they do not need to live in fear.” I mentioned this last week, with a few examples of unpleasantries that those who choose to live in fear might otherwise choose to emigrate from. One example that I mentioned was, “If they fear houseless people, (…), they can relocate to someplace that is unpopular with (…) houseless people (…).

Does that seem harsh? It should not. Some of those who choose live in fear of the houseless commonly suggest that the houseless should relocate in order to accommodate them. If this is so easy or such a practical concept, then it should be just as easy or practical for those who choose to live in fear of the houseless.

After all, and contrary to what those who live in fear of the houseless claim, the majority of those who are houseless here are either native or have been here significantly longer than most of those who choose to live in fear of them. Many of those who live in fear of the houseless start complaining about it as soon as they arrive from somewhere else.

Those who choose to live in fear of the houseless should have become familiar with the local Community and society prior to deciding to immigrate. They should not have immigrated to a Community or society that is unsatisfactory for them.

Since so many of them believe that the houseless migrate here, they should migrate to where they believe the houseless migrate from. The houseless whom they choose to fear should be gone from there, since, according to those who choose to live in fear of them, they came here.

Those who choose to live in unrealistic or unjustified fear seem to be rather deficient of common logic.

Get A Job

If there were not so many more pleasant topics to discuss, there could be an another category on this blog about stupid things that people say about homelessness. One of the most inane and also most common questions about homeless people who are perceived to also be unemployed is, “Why don’t they just get a job?”. This question is very often accompanied by a mention of a local employer who happens to be hiring new employees.

Have any of those who say such trivializing things ever tried what they suggest for others to do? Most of us at one time or another have gotten a job. There is nothing unusual about that. What makes the primary question unusual is that it is in regard to homeless and seemingly unemployed people. Has anyone who asks this question tried to get a job while homeless and unemployed? Would those who ask this question hire someone who is homeless and unemployed?

Fortunately, there are a few employers without our Community who can hire homeless people, even though it is difficult for homeless people to wash, groom and regularly wear clean clothes. Presentation is not so important for some sorts of jobs. Unfortunately, other Communities are not so accommodating. Employers are unlikely to hire those who are unable to make a good first impression, or maintain such an impression. For many jobs, presentation is very important.

Furthermore, employment is not necessarily an immediate remedy to homelessness. Many gainfully employed people can not afford rent or a mortgage here. Even if they can, it takes a long time to save for deposits or down payments. Even after saving enough for a deposit on a rental, homeless people are likely be ineligible to rent because of imperfect credit as a result of losing their previous homes.

Karen

From Karen

Seriously, that was her name. Karen. It was printed on her discarded baseball cap that was in the box of assorted trash that she tossed off the Graham Hill Road Bridge over Zayante Creek. There was some paperwork in the box too, which provided a bit more information. I was on the telephone and across the road at the gate of the industrial yard from where I work for part of the week when I saw her drop the box from the Bridge. I could neither yell to her while on the telephone, nor immediately end the call.

I did contact the sheriff though, as I walked across the road after ending the previous call. Prior to the discovery of identifying material, I doubted that anything could be done about the situation. Also, I did not want to trouble anyone with something that nothing could be done about. Nonetheless, I remembered that such crimes, even if minor, should be reported. The deputy who returned my call seemed pleased that I did.

Before I knew her name, I described Karen and what she was wearing. I also tried to describe a gentleman who was with her, but whom I had not seen much of. He walked ahead of her, as if embarrassed to be seen with her. I could not see a car that they drove there with; so they must have walked a considerable distance with the box of trash.

I also described how Karen and the gentleman she was with proceeded in the direction that they were going prior to dropping the box of trash, rather than back the way from which they came. I wondered if they had arrived from that direction previously, walked past, and then delivered the box as they returned. It was perplexing.

Of course, nothing could be done about this incident while it was necessary for deputies to prioritize more significant crimes. The box of trash was small enough to be collected and deposited into a dumpster within the industrial yard. Questions remain though.

Why did Karen drop her box of trash from the bridge?

Does Karen have a means with which to dispose of trash at home?

Did Karen leave the trash there so that homeless people would be blamed for it?

What is with Karen?!

Fuentes Residence – Pacoima

This is just too delightful to not share. The video in the original article is even better.

By CHELSEA EDWARDS Published June 18 (2021)

A homeless encampment in Pacoima, California has turned into an art piece after a homeless man turned a hillside along a freeway into a home that comes complete with art and gardens.

The property was build and landscaped along the 118 Freeway by 65-year-old Jose Fuentes. He’s originally from Colima, Mexico.

Nathaniel Padilla is the owner of Taco El Canelo, a restaurant that is next to the encampment.

Padilla says, “He said he was a gardener. So he did landscaping, so he got really good with his hands.”

He says it is becoming something legendary.

Padilla says, “People love it. I have people climbing up the mountain to go give them gifts like he’s like he’s baby Jesus almost. I have many people come out and ask me questions about what’s going on. ‘What is this? Is this like a memorial?’ No, it’s not. It’s just a creative man at work.”

Padilla says Fuentes helps keep the shopping center clean and they have a great relationship.

“Honestly, he never does anything to offend anybody. So we don’t have any reason to call any police or anyone to remove him from here. He’s a really, genuinely nice guy, and we’re happy to have him here,” Padilla says.

City Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez addressed the encampment in a statement, accusing the state highway department of being negligent in maintaining the area and says that she, “continues to seek Caltrans cooperation and support to maintain their right of ways and work with appropriate agencies to coordinate services for the unhoused who are living on state property.”

Caltrans says it is working with various partners to moved the unhoused into safer situations and that due to COVID-19: “Caltrans is proceeding with the encampment cleanups if there was an immediate safety concern or threat to critical infrastructure.”

Fuentes says that no one has ever asked him to leave The hillside or has offered him housing but whatever happens, he’ll keep his creative flair.

He says, “They take it away. We move on. We build another place.”

Chateau du Mal Voisin

Derived from a misspelling and bad grammar, it is a fictitious place of the Peanuts comics. According to Charlie Brown, ‘Chateau du Mal Voisin’ translates from French into ‘Chateau of the Bad Neighbor’. Regardless of questionable syntax, it, in one form or another, is something that most of us can identify with.

The Chateau du Mal Voisin of the illustration here is fortunately not local. It is at the southeastern corner of the interchange of South Cochran Avenue and Venice Boulevard, just west of the Mid City district of Los Angeles. The picture was taken last December. The Chateau has been expanded extensively since then. Not only is it now larger than some of the two bedroom apartments on West Cologne Street in the background, but it has a spacious yard, a parking space for the occupant’s sedan, an ornate wrought iron security door, and, of all things, a mailbox. No building permits were issued. The resident pays neither a mortgage nor rent to live in this expensive neighborhood.

Those who do pay either a mortgage or rent to live here pay too much to contend with this in their neighborhood. Locally generated tax revenue is more than adequate to prevent this from happening, even if such prevention were to involve assuming the expense of providing more socially acceptable accommodations for the houseless. To be brutally blunt, this is unacceptable.

This certainly should not imply that the Community is not concerned for their houseless members. Like our local Community, the Mid City Los Angeles Community is remarkably generous and gracious in regard to helping their houseless neighbors improve their respective situations. In fact, that is what makes this Chateau du Mal Voisin so intolerable. It expresses a complete lack of appreciation for the graciousness of the Community.

Technically, people should not inhabit public spaces. The houseless do so only because they lack other options. Most attempt to be discrete and respectful of the Community, just as most of the Community is so respectfully accommodating and tolerant.

A Chateau du Mal Voisin such as this certainly confounds tolerance.

Interesting Question

It is perplexing that the local houselessness situation improved so significantly a few years ago, and then stabilized, both prior to and concurrently with such significant increases in the rates of houselessness in so many other Communities. Of course, the rate of houselessness increased drastically as a result of the CZU Fire last August, but then stabilized remarkably efficiently as many of the victims, with the assistance of home owners’ insurance, procured at least temporary domestic situations. Many of those who remain houseless as a result of the CZU Fire are living elsewhere temporarily, so are not as visually apparent as the more familiar local houseless.

This unusual improvement of the local rates of houselessness was questioned at my other unrelated blog, in conjunction with commentary regarding the contrary nature of such information, relative to the experiences of other Communities.

This was my reply:

“That is an interesting question that no one seems to have an answer for. The trend did not coincide with trends elsewhere. But of course, the unhoused Community here involves only a few people, so the ‘trends’ that we observe are much more variable than they are in more significant Communities. (For example,) if two people (of the approximately twenty of the unhoused who reside here) happen to procure a domestic situation, regardless (of) actual trends everywhere else, that is 10% of the entire unhoused Community locally. Several years ago, several of the unhoused passed away within only a few years. (. . .) More recently, some relocated for employment, or for available domestic situations. The housed Community here is very generous with helping the unhoused improve their situations. Not only has the situation here improved, but the fake news about it has not been proliferated as rampantly as it had been. A few years ago, the unhoused were blamed by a few haters for ‘everything’ bad that happened here. Society simply does not subscribe to that anymore. We recognize the few haters for who they are. (. . .)”