MacArthur Park

Part of MacArthur Park, Site of Homeless Encampment, Will Remain Closed for 10 Weeks

The area of the park between Alvarado and Park View streets and Wilshire Boulevard and Seventh Street will be closed for the projects.

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The lakeside portion of MacArthur Park will be closed for 10 weeks as maintenance crews work on projects in that area of the park west of downtown Los Angeles.

The section of the park between Alvarado and Park View streets and Wilshire Boulevard and Seventh Street will be closed for the projects. Councilman Gil Cedillo's office said they began offering shelter options to people living in the park starting in January, and as of Wednesday, 257 people had been moved indoors.

Misty Crossan, who is homeless at the park, said crews moved a lot of her stuff into storage.

"They're gonna put me in a room later today," she said. "I'm going to try it. I'm a little nervous."

Teams with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority and People Assisting The Homeless have been handling the outreach operation, and the park's residents were offered Project Roomkey placements in hotels and motels in the mid-downtown area, said Cedillo's Deputy District Director Jose Rodriguez.

During the closure, the Department of Recreation and Parks will conduct electrical repairs, lighting repairs and upgrades, landscape reseeding, painting, irrigation repairs and upgrades, signage replacements and park furniture repairs and replacement.

Rodriguez added that people living in the park would not be stopped from relocating to the north side of the park, across Wilshire, during the south side's closure, and the city will continue outreach and trash collection to those unhoused residents.

The move to close the park drew criticism from housing advocates on Twitter, comparing the closure to that of Echo Park in March. While Councilman Mitch O'Farrell, who oversaw that operation, touted it as a successful housing operation.

Protesters who took to the Echo Park neighborhood in March blasted the city for forcing the park's residents out of an area that had grown into what they called a supportive community -- including a vegetable garden, working showers and a shared kitchen. In response to protests, hundreds of officers descended on the neighborhood and 182 people were arrested.

Ana Minauri, of Homies Unidos, the 20-year-old nonprofit has that's focused on helping Westlake's homeless population, said she was at the park Friday to make sure service providers and housing placements happen peacefully.

"We need to come together and come up with long-term, sustainable solutions," Minauri said. "This is a community-based approach and not a violent and punitive police strategy."

Some residents who live near MacArthur Park say they've waited a long time for this, after watching their beloved park become what they saw as a drug-infested mental ward.

"Let's keep it real because that's what's happening," said Alex Alvarado, a Westlake resident.

He said people are afraid to come to the park.

"We need our park back," he said.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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