Los Angeles

‘Downtown LA is a Hellscape.' Business Owner Says City Does Nothing to Remedy Homeless Encampment Problems

One downtown Los Angeles business employee said a homeless encampment is taking over the area, and despite his pleas for help from the city, he isn't getting through to anyone.

"Downtown LA is a hellscape now. And I don't know who's in charge of keeping it clean and nice but they're not doing it. And I think that's pretty shameful," Josh Kaye said.

The encampment is behind Kaye's business and several others on 15th Street just south of the Fashion District.

A week before, Kaye, who works at Lunch Money clothing, said there was a fire in the encampment that nearly jumped the fence to his business.

"Our gate was completely singed — burned," he said. "We can't load anything in or out of here anymore."

Kaye said he rarely opens the gate — if ever — because the encampment growing behind it.

"We had to call the fire department. They came out, opened the gate, saw the carnage, told us you know what, sorry guys, there's nothing we can do — can't touch it, can't clean it up. You should contact 311," he said.

And therein lies the problem. Kaye said he's called the city's 311 line 15 times in the last five months.

"Been on the phone with them, been on hold with them, been with street services, trash dumping — all that — and I was just bounced around like a pingpong," he said.

He even blasted them on social media for the "accidental fire" damage.

"Ideally this would be cleaned up when I submit a request," he said. "I'm sure somebody's hands are tied because nothing happens."

He also worries what would happen if a fire were to break out inside his warehouse. He'd only have the front door to escape, because he says the encampment is blocking the alley. He said it's also affecting business.

"This company next to us — these two companies used to take deliveries frequently. I haven't seen any of that happen in over a year," he said.

NBCLA was awaiting comment from Mayor Eric Garcetti's office. 

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