Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The California Homeless Urban Brushfire Fire Season Begins

 
Vacant lot on residential street near Downtown Los Angeles set ablaze after homeless encampment catches fire on the night of August 19, 2020.

As the only member of my family living in California – specifically, Los Angeles – I have to deal with the common misconceptions of the state: No, one does not go up to celebrities and start talking to them, even just to say how much one likes their work. No, locals generally don’t go to Hollywood; it’s an overpriced, touristy hellscape of traffic with no parking. And no, even if one does go to the beach (many don’t – that hellscape of traffic with no parking thing again), people only swim on the hottest days because the ocean here is icy cold.

But what I find myself having to correct most often is no, those dramatic wildfires on the news are nowhere near me. I live a mile outside of Downtown LA in a dense, urbanized area, and there are no sections of hills and brushlands near me to go up in flames. What they are seeing is always either in the hills where the wealthy have homes or the suburbs so far from me that I won’t see the smoke until and unless it burns so long that it dissipates into a choking, carbon-scented haze that drifts over the Santa Monica Mountains and hangs over the Los Angeles Basin.

Vacant lot on residential street near Downtown Los Angeles set ablaze after homeless encampment catches fire on the night of August 19, 2020: The fire begins.
Vacant lot on residential street near Downtown Los Angeles set ablaze after homeless encampment catches fire on the night of August 19, 2020: The vacant lot ignites.

That was, until two nights ago. The epidemic of homelessness that continues to plague California cities hasn’t abated with the Wuhan bat flu. Downtown LA increasingly looks like a George Romero film: a ruined landscape of wrecked and deserted hotels, bars, restaurants, and stores that had just recently been filled with life before being ransacked, boarded-up, and abandoned to a hollow remnant of humanity with no other purpose than the quotidian shambling from place to place as it wallows in its own effluence.

On the West Coast, in cities from Seattle to San Diego, they have become the ne plus ultra of protected classes: I have heard from friends of LAPD officers that police are regularly paid overtime to protect the homeless and their right to homestead public spaces for their own crapulence. (I somehow suspect this is a part of policing that the Left won’t find their way to defunding.)

Behind my apartment building, there is a vacant lot. Until two-and-a-half years ago, it was a bungalow court that was over a century old, but, for some reason, its owner decided to evict the tenants and tear the place down. And then – no development since then. Los Angeles has become notorious for its excruciating red tape around permitting; opening a restaurant, which would take a few weeks or months in a city like Houston, can take upward of two to three years in LA.

Meanwhile, the empty bungalow court in what is one of the densest areas west of the Mississippi River was quickly colonized by the homeless just as soon as the tenants were evicted. When the buildings were demolished and only the foundations remained, the homeless still returned and set up camp.

Sitting on a steeply sloping street, the narrow, deep lot is largely hidden from view from passersby, so it made a perfect spot for shady goings-on as I learned from a Lyft driver one day: He also happened to work security on the side in those pre-AB-5 days and frequently evicted the homeless men pimping out homeless women there. When the foundations were finally demolished and most of the lot fenced off, the lot’s usefulness as a hideaway for drug dealing, drug use, and prostitution ended, and eventually only a few vagrants pitched tents on the small available patch of earth there.

Vacant lot on residential street near Downtown Los Angeles set ablaze after homeless encampment catches fire on the night of August 19, 2020: The LAFD arrives.

Recently, one semi-permanent encampment had been erected over the steps leading up to the lot, using scavenged plywood and other items. Two nights ago, a little after 8 p.m., I was in my bathroom and happened to glance out the window. That structure was suddenly on fire.

Soon, the fire spread up and into the field behind it, which, like almost any wild, untended space not near a water source in Southern California at this time of year, was little more than dry, dead brush. It went up in seconds.

The Los Angeles Fire Department arrived quickly and put out the conflagration; it doesn’t appear there was anyone in the fire. Someone in my building suspects someone set the deliberately set the encampment on fire; it wouldn’t be the first time someone tried to burn a homeless person alive in LA. I saw no one running from the site, and I can find no news of the incident online. (This was, in fact, the second fire to happen to a homeless encampment here. Another, much less severe fire occurred within the last year that I did not witness; I only noticed the burnt green plastic lining on the fence and remains of the encampment after the fact.)

The next day, two homeless people – a black man and a white woman – were homesteading into the lot past the now-destroyed fence, pushing a misappropriated shopping cart as far as they could into the tall brush before retreating to their new makeshift shelter built at the far rear corner of the lot. Someone has since tried to prop up the fence and cover it with plastic sheeting, but our homeless homesteaders are apparently still in place.

No one dares try to move the homeless in L.A. any longer. The whole city is theirs now.

Section of fencing damaged from earlier, separate homeless encampment fire on same vacant lot near Downtown Los Angeles.

Suddenly those brushfires from the news that still seemed remote to me were outside my window. Sure, I had seen some: I witnessed the 2007 Griffith Park Fire from my apartment, and I have seen the great columns of smoke rising above the Hollywood sign and over the Getty Center. But never have the fires worried me. The fires never came close. The fires were not much that much more significant to me than they were to my family watching them on the news halfway across the country. And now – they were. Not because of the weather or climate change or urban sprawl. No, only because of bad policies by my city’s leaders that have allowed LA to become the Homeless Capital of America.

Vacant lot on August 21, 2020, two days after homeless encampment fire. Note the stolen shopping cart full of scavenged items in lower center; homeless have already returned to squatting in the lot.

So what is the point of all this? This is the future of America – all America – if Democrats have their way. This is what America will look like – a nation that can randomly burst into flames right outside your bathroom window at any moment. Chaos hangs in the air, and all one can do is hope the flames don’t reach your door. That is what life in California is like now. The state’s leaders are working their hardest to bring the chaos to as many of the people as possible – that is, except themselves and their very select supporters.

There is a pernicious combination of heavy-handed regulation and lawlessness, where the “ordinary” folks are fined, ticketed, and red-taped into cowering submission while certain groups of scofflaws are allowed to claw at the fabric of society with carte blanche. Governor Gruesome, Eric Garcetti, and their ilk, they won’t be woken up by the screams of the mentally ill at three in the morning, but it sure is time those reactionaries in San Bernardino County are. Because sharing is caring, don’t you know…

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  1. DonG (Biden is compromised) Coolidge

    Thanks for the frontline reporting. Good luck. 

    • #1
    • August 21, 2020, at 3:35 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  2. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    Happens in Seattle too. And I assume due to all the government spending on the Wuhan Coronavirus, said government is not maintaining the highway verges-the road I drive to work has a Jersey barrier dividing the two directions of traffic. There are trees growing from that Jersey barrier now. All the freeways are firetraps, especially with people wantonly throwing lit cigarettes out their windows.

    • #2
    • August 21, 2020, at 3:40 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  3. The Elephant in the Room Member

    DonG (skeptic) (View Comment):

    Thanks for the frontline reporting. Good luck.

    I honestly wish I had nothing to say about anything like this; like most Angelenos, I’d prefer to bury my head in the sand, forget about the bad things in the world, and just think about sunshine and palm trees and other happy California things. Sadly, the frontline has come to me. What my friends and coworkers (all Democrats – so they’re such good people) don’t realize when they hear me do my Cassandra act is that, unless something changes somewhere down the line, the frontline will be coming to them in Sylmar or Studio City, Stanton or Santa Clarita, Sawtelle or Simi Valley. They think this is what those bad ol’ Republicans have done – but there are no bad ol’ Republicans left here.

    Then again, when this ↓ is the manner in which Californians attack every problem, it shouldn’t be any wonder this state is in the shape it’s in. (I’m awaiting a note from The Simpsons‘ producers demanding I stop watching their show any moment now…)

    • #3
    • August 21, 2020, at 4:24 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  4. Mark Camp Member

    So, like, Annette didn’t even go in the water because it’s freezing??

    We were told that the West Coast has the sunshine, And the girls all get so tan.

    Was this all a lie, too?!

    • #4
    • August 21, 2020, at 4:50 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  5. The Elephant in the Room Member

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    So, like, Annette didn’t even go in the water because it’s freezing??

    We were told that the West Coast has the sunshine, And the girls all get so tan.

    Was this all a lie, too?!

    It’s not like the ocean in Florida, which is warm like a nice bathtub. (Of course, that nice warm water also sustains tropical cyclones.) Here, the ocean is only really comfortable on very hot days as a means of cooling off. But it’s what makes the weather here so pleasant – frigid ocean currents meet an arid landscape and create a unique climate found only in a few places in the world aside from the edge of the Mediterranean Sea, namely in South Africa, Chile, Australia, on America’s west coast, and in a few scattered places in Central Asia.

    More importantly, that cold ocean is what makes it so easy to be homeless nearly all year-round here.

    • #5
    • August 21, 2020, at 8:52 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  6. DonG (Biden is compromised) Coolidge

    The Elephant in the Room (View Comment):
    More importantly, that cold ocean is what makes it so easy to be homeless nearly all year-round here.

    I always liked to drive around in the city of San Marino. I bet there aren’t any hobos there.

    • #6
    • August 21, 2020, at 10:15 PM PDT
    • Like
  7. GrannyDude Member

    I keep wondering whether, at some point, the results of loony-leftism will be outside the windows of too many otherwise sympathetic and/or oblivious people…and a tipping point will be reached? For instance, now that the “protesters” in Portland are marching around residential neighborhoods, screaming obscenities, honking car horns and demanding to be given all the “sh*t” that was stolen from them by slavery, or gentrification or something…will the charm of all of this at last begin to pale?

    I think of a mother I knew when all our children were small. She saw a mouse in her kitchen and so purchased those itty-bitty Hav-A-Hart traps that allow you to capture the rodent alive and release it into “the wild,” there to live out its tiny life…

    Then she found a mouse turd in her baby’s crib. And that was the end of the Hav-A-Hart traps and the beginning of mousie genocide.

     

    • #7
    • August 22, 2020, at 6:06 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  8. Joe Boyle Member

    DonG (skeptic) (View Comment):

    The Elephant in the Room (View Comment):
    More importantly, that cold ocean is what makes it so easy to be homeless nearly all year-round here.

    I always liked to drive around in the city of San Marino. I bet there aren’t any hobos there.

    No homeless encampments in Lacy Park?

     

    • #8
    • August 22, 2020, at 8:19 AM PDT
    • Like
  9. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    You’ve given us, with graphic pictures, a description of the future of life in our cities — Detroit nationwide.

    • #9
    • August 22, 2020, at 10:15 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  10. Kervinlee Member
    Kervinlee Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Within the city limits of my city, Oakland, there are many homeless camps. The one I encounter on my way to and from work each day is almost a town in its own right. One or more of the residents there gets burned out every six weeks or so. One day there’s a shanty of scrap wood and garbage, the next a bare patch of soot and debris, with gleaners going through the rubble. Rebuilding starts immediately afterwards. Elaborate structures, too, some multi-story and powered by extension cords run across the street from the tapped streetlights. Once the fire department discovered a corpse of some soul who had been deceased before the tent or dwelling it was in burned. These camps are enormous piles of squalor; bonfires and rodents amid mounds of trash, and the discarded scavenged items: everything from furniture to stripped autos. The next block over is a big walk for street prostitutes. I tend to believe the homeless are less dangerous than the hookers, so I drive past the camp but with my doors locked. It’s dark when I’m on my way home, so I drive past with my high-beams on and look as carefully at the road ahead as I can, because there are often pedestrians or bicyclists in dark clothing wandering carelessly in the street. God forbid I hit somebody.

    Its been that way for quite a few years now; these people are dug in, with more arriving all the time. No civil authority has the stones to change the status quo; lest someone think they lack compassion or some ding-a-ling judge rules against public order. Don’t try to build a deck or install a window in your own place without a permit, though, unless you really want some bureaucratic grief and expense.

    At this point I have given up hope of this problem ever being resolved. It is too established, too malignant, to return to a saner, more decent and orderly polity. My plan is to wait it out until I can decamp for sunnier uplands somewhere else, if such a place still exists, and go.

    • #10
    • August 22, 2020, at 11:15 PM PDT
    • Like
    • This comment has been edited.
  11. OkieSailor Member
    OkieSailor Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    ” Someone in my building suspects someone set the deliberately set the encampment on fire; it wouldn’t be the first time someone tried to burn a homeless person alive in LA. “

    During the Middle Ages in Europe whenever some family had made themselves completely noxious to a community and refused to relocate the locals took the extreme measure of burning their hut with everything in it not usually including the people. This was called being ‘fired’ and is believed to be the origination of the term for losing one’s job today. The practice became obsolete when good governments and reasonable regulations made it unnecessary in modern times but now with both governments and regulations having been turned into instruments working against the productive members of society we are seeing the beginnings of a return to vigilante measures to restore some semblance of sanity. If the voters don’t take steps to restore good order this slide into chaos will result in continued degradation of civil society . What path will we choose?

    • #11
    • August 23, 2020, at 3:37 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  12. Jon1979 Lincoln

    GrannyDude (View Comment):

    I keep wondering whether, at some point, the results of loony-leftism will be outside the windows of too many otherwise sympathetic and/or oblivious people…and a tipping point will be reached? For instance, now that the “protesters” in Portland are marching around residential neighborhoods, screaming obscenities, honking car horns and demanding to be given all the “sh*t” that was stolen from them by slavery, or gentrification or something…will the charm of all of this at last begin to pale?

    I think of a mother I knew when all our children were small. She saw a mouse in her kitchen and so purchased those itty-bitty Hav-A-Hart traps that allow you to capture the rodent alive and release it into “the wild,” there to live out its tiny life…

    Then she found a mouse turd in her baby’s crib. And that was the end of the Hav-A-Hart traps and the beginning of mousie genocide.

     

    New York City did reach its tipping point in 1993 with Giuliani, and in the run-up to that election you saw things like “60 Minutes” doing stories on the negative consequences of the city’s homeless policies under Democrats (where the staff likely either lived in, or had friends who lived in the the areas being negatively impacted, which got the story on CBS where it had been previously ignored).

    So there is a tipping point. But in New York’s case, it took about a quarter-century to reach the tipping point, to where just enough liberals were willing to hold their nose and vote for a Republican, and that didn’t come until the ability to deny the quality of life decline became impossible, because the homeless were invading some of the pricier parts of Manhattan.

    In the case of the far more car-oriented Los Angeles, I doubt the city or county is there yet because for too many liberals the problems are still far enough away so that the homeless are more ‘exciting street theater’ than a direct personal concern.

     

    • #12
    • August 23, 2020, at 6:36 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  13. Songwriter Inactive
    Songwriter Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    DonG (skeptic) (View Comment):

    Thanks for the frontline reporting. Good luck.

    What Don said.

    • #13
    • August 23, 2020, at 8:34 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  14. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    OkieSailor (View Comment):

    ” Someone in my building suspects someone set the deliberately set the encampment on fire; it wouldn’t be the first time someone tried to burn a homeless person alive in LA. “

    During the Middle Ages in Europe whenever some family had made themselves completely noxious to a community and refused to relocate the locals took the extreme measure of burning their hut with everything in it not usually including the people. This was called being ‘fired’ and is believed to be the origination of the term for losing one’s job today. The practice became obsolete when good governments and reasonable regulations made it unnecessary in modern times but now with both governments and regulations having been turned into instruments working against the productive members of society we are seeing the beginnings of a return to vigilante measures to restore some semblance of sanity. If the voters don’t take steps to restore good order this slide into chaos will result in continued degradation of civil society . What path will we choose?

    Occupy Wall Street tents looked particularly flammable to my eyes. 

    • #14
    • August 23, 2020, at 11:24 PM PDT
    • Like