Community East Edition Local News News

Whittier to clear park homeless encampment

WHITTIER — The cleanup of a homeless encampment at Parnell Park, is expected to start Jan. 27 following a formal 10-day notice approved Jan. 14 to vacate certain areas of the park by Jan. 25.

Plans are to reopen the park for programming Jan. 31 under enforcement of park curfew hours, said Assistant City Manager Shannon DeLong in a report to the City Council Jan. 14.

The City Council approved the action on a 4-0 vote and allocated up to $22,050 toward clean up and enforcement of curfew at the park. Councilman Josue Alvarado was absent, a city clerk spokesperson said.

The curfew, approved as part of a Jan. 8 plan to vacate the encampment, sets hours of operation of city parks from sunrise to sundown, thus no overnight camping, DeLong said.

“On advice of legal counsel, park curfew hours have not been enforced due to the Martin v. Boise case,” DeLong said, referring to a decision by an Idaho judge that prohibits removing the homeless from public encampments if there is no other place for them to go.

The council’s action Jan. 14 directed city staff to:

• Provide 10 business days notice prior to closure of impacted areas at Parnell Park and curfew enforcement for cleaning, sanitizing and repairs to begin Jan. 31.

• Work with the Los Angeles County Homeless Services Authority and the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s interdisciplinary Homeless Outreach Services Team and/or subcontractors to provide outreach and resources to individuals experiencing homelessness at Parnell Park.

• Clean, sanitize and repair the areas closed and other areas that staff deems require such actions.

• And, following the closure and clean up, enforce curfew hours at Parnell Park.

The City Council directed staff to provide a report at the next council meeting Jan. 28 regarding implementation of the directions.

In her report, DeLong noted that the issue came before council earlier this month.

“At a special City Council meeting Jan. 6, the City Council heard public testimony, including reports of a death, a hospitalization and an alleged assault at Parnell Park and made findings that immediate health, safety and welfare concerns at Parnell Park necessitated the enforcement of curfew hours at the park,” the report said.

“From Jan. 6 through Jan. 27, city and county staff and service providers will work intensively on outreach, resource matching and placement services for individuals experiencing homelessness at Parnell Park.

“In particular, the city’s newest resource, crisis beds at Whittier First Day, are being utilized to the extent possible to help facilitate housing and resource matching,” DeLong said.

Estimated costs of the cleanup include hazardous material cleanup by Ocean Blue, $5,800 to $6,000; temporary fencing, $8,500; city park and public works staffing costs, $1,650; police staffing costs, $2,900-$5,900; and cleanup, storage and miscellaneous supplies, $200.

“Additional refuse hauling will be provided within the agreement by Republic Services, the city’s contracted trash hauler,” DeLong said.

By Arnold Adler

Contributing Writer