Back in the Spring of 2012, the County Department of Health, after examining the streets of Skid Row, issued a report declaring the streets a public health crises. Part of the report recommended more public toilets. The City challenged that part of the report and the County backed down.
In response to the rest of the report, the City launched Operation Healthy Streets, an intensive Department of Public Works effort to clean the sidewalks mainly through power washing followed by sanitizing.
Since then, Operation Healthy Streets maintains the initial work done the summer of 2012 through a week long cleaning effort every three to four months plus monthly spot cleaning.
The Council District (CD)-14 Skid Row Working Group visited Operation Healthy Streets on San Julian Street the morning of October 10th on the first day of the Fall week long effort. Facilitated by Sara Hernandez, CD-14 Downtown Area Director, along with Miguel Vargas, Downtown Field Deputy and Martin Schlageter, CD-14 Policy Director, the Working Group is a City Hall/Skid Row community “think tank” emphasizing practical implementation of ways to improve conditions in Skid Row.
CD-14 was visiting Operation Healthy Streets and talking to the Sanitation Department on site as part of getting a detailed overview of what Operation Healthy Streets is doing to then work with the community on possible changes/improvements.
Community outreach is done days in advance to let the homeless and general public know the street must be cleared and a few hours in advance of Operation Healthy Streets arriving the L.A.P.D. does a sweep of the street. Occasionally homeless belongings are left on the sidewalk and a city crew will carefully separate trash from personal belongings with the belongings cataloged and taken to Chrysalis to be claimed.
In May 2013, the County Health Department did a follow up examination of the streets and sent a letter dated June 5th to City Attorney Michael Feuer again recommending more public toilets for Skid Row. How the County recommendation might become part of the mission of Operation Healthy Streets is a question hovering at the moment.
By Tom Grode
Blogger’s note: The views expressed in this blog post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Trees on San Pedro Street Project editrix, Ms. McNenny. This is a Community improvement blog and not faith-based