Highland Park Homeless Camp Eyesore Sparks Neighborhood Ire

Neighbors in Highland Park are caught in the middle of a battle over who's responsible for cleaning up a homeless encampment

Imagine smelly, rotting garbage piling up on your corner. And for months, no matter how much you complain, nobody does anything about it.

That's what some people in Highland Park have been dealing with.

You can see the mess — a homeless encampment that's become a dumping ground full of hazards.

The city of Los Angeles has been battling lawsuits to provide some clarity on where the rights of the homeless end and where the public's begin.

The people who live nearby, meantime, are caught in the middle.

"It happens," said Los Angeles City Councilman Gilbert Cedillo. "We clean it up."

The homeless camp functions as an unsanitary — bug and vermin infested — playground for squirrels and stray cats.

Even with a park next door, kids avoid getting ice cream at the location.

Students walk in the street because being next to it means breathing it.

"It smells like urine," said student Stephanie Alamillo. "It doesn't smell good."

Or a face-to-face with one of the camp's residents.

"It's kind of upsetting because it is our school," said Martin Baeza, a student. "We do have to come by here every single day."

Joseph Angel, a resident, said the place looks like a dump.

"I see the same items there for three weeks," he said.

And for weeks Angel says he's been calling city leaders asking for help.

Signs were posted that a cleanup would begin Tuesday.

After NBC4 cameras recorded an eyesore Monday, the garbage was removed on Tuesday morning.

"It's not just a trash problem," Cedillo said. "It's a problem of homeless."

Cedillo says LA can handle the trash. It's the rights of the people who may own it that complicates dismantling camps.

So while it's clean now, Angel says give it a week or so. There are signs a new camp will form quickly and it's back to square one.

"I don't know how they live," Angel said. "I've seen another homeless camp before that didn't look as bad as this. This is pretty bad."

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