Listen Up City Hall: Time to Can the Double Talk about the Homeless!

RANTZ AND RAVEZ-I don’t want to be too critical about the leadership or lack of it at LA City Hall. I just want to be fair and objective as I point to a failed system of direction and accomplishments – failures that impact all of us who are trying to enjoy life and happiness in the Golden State and the City of LA. I am talking about the ever-growing population of homeless living on the streets of our city. 

I have written a number of articles on this subject and the problem is just getting worse as the days, weeks and months pass. Everywhere I go -- from the San Fernando Valley to the Westside to Downtown and all the other parts of Los Angeles -- I see the same expanding sights of homeless with their tents and trash and the neglect of our city. It is not my responsibility or your duty to clean the sidewalks and pick up the trash left by those who don’t appear to care about quality of life or basic sanitary conditions in our city. 

That task is the responsibility of local governmental officials; they must provide the funds and resources to maintain order and keep the city clean, as is done in other neighboring communities surrounding LA. Like so many of you have said, enough is enough. With the billions of dollars in the current Los Angeles City budget, there are available funds to address the situation. And there will be many more dollars available when the recreational marijuana tax dollars start rolling in, estimated at millions and millions of dollars. 

We also have funds being generated by measures H and HHH for housing and supportive services for LA’s homeless population. In addition, there are dollars for homeless housing being generated by the new linkage fee from developers that build projects in Los Angeles.    

Housing and a decent quality of life for all should be a top concern for elected officials. In addition to our local city officials, local Neighborhood Councils that have elected representatives from the many neighborhood communities whose job it is to connect and improve the life of the many diverse populations throughout the sprawling city boundaries.   

Like many of you, I have done my part by supporting and volunteering at the Los Angeles Mission and Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission as well as other places established to help those in need. I have given both money and my time to a variety of charitable organizations. It is very frustrating to see the homeless situation continue to get worse day by day in our neighborhoods. 

Down the street from my home, there are homeless people sleeping on bus benches and asking for money when I go to my local market to shop. It never ends. While I feel sorry for those less fortunate, our society offers free primary and now a free first year of community college education for every high school graduate. There is no excuse for not getting an education to improve your life and learn a trade so you don’t have to live on the street. Money is not an excuse for not receiving a primary education. Without the basics that are learned in school, it is nearly impossible to accomplish any success in life. We are a caring and compassionate society for the most part. But there is a limit to our caring and desire to tolerate the actions of those who fail to move forward in adulthood. 

I recently came across a report on the military and how the majority of Americans in their 20s are unfit for military service. The report revealed that 71% of Americans between 17 and 24 can’t meet the minimum criteria for military service. The reasons for DQ range from medical issues, weight and fitness standards to misconduct, mental health and substance abuse concerns. Where do these people end up? On the streets of our communities?  

With the City now providing portable showers and moving to housing the homeless in parking lots around Los Angeles, what will come next? These are not real solutions, only more short-term stopgaps that push the situation away to be solved another day.  

There are many jobs available in various professions. I discuss them with business owners and see them advertised all the time. If one wants to work, there are opportunities available. Without a primary education and some job skills, however, those opportunities fall away. The result can be living on the street.       

I invite you to join me in the annual Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count. The count will run for three days in January. The next count in the Valley is scheduled for January 23. This will be my third homeless count. It’s a project that only works because of volunteers. For information go to Homelesscount@lahsa.org.  

Crime Stats in Los Angeles: 

The latest LAPD COMPSTAT Citywide profile of crime trends has not been updated since December 16, 2017. At that time there were 10,038 police personnel and crime numbers reflect the following information. 

This compares 2015 to 2017 statistics: 

Total Violent Crime…Up 15.8% 

Property Crime…Up 8.7% 

Arrests…Down 15.2%

 (Dennis P. Zine is a former and retired LAPD Supervisor, former and retired 12-year Los Angeles City Councilman and current General Manager at Bell Canyon in Ventura County.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.