Trash-strewn streets in downtown L.A., mounds of junk and rotting food, and now news that the LAPD station on skid row was cited by the state for a rodent infestation and other unsanitary conditions. One employee was even infected with the strain of bacteria that causes typhoid fever.
This is a 21st century American city with one of the worlds most robust economies.
Los Angeles has thousands of people huddled on the streets, many of them withering away with physical and mental disease. Sidewalks have basically disappeared, hidden by tents and the kinds of makeshift shanties you see in Third World places. Typhoid and typhus are in the news and an army of rodents seem to be taking over.
“Trucks come by and run over the trash,” said Ron Riego, 60, who lives under a tarp on the corner and pointed out where some of the debris has been flattened by traffic.
Riego said he had just returned from the hospital, where he was treated for congestive heart failure and water on the lungs. On returning to his tarp, he discovered that someone had set fire to some of his belongings. He was now sorting through his things to see what could be saved, and planning to move a few feet to the west.
“Rats chased me out,” he said, so he was surrendering his lean-to to the rodents.
The city has thousands of workers on the streets every day writing tickets, fixing potholes, driving trash trucks. Every one of them ought to be reporting issues they see on their rounds.
“If you’re writing a parking ticket and someone dumps a toilet in the street, you should call sanitation,” said Estela Lopez of the Downtown Industrial Neighborhood Businesses Improvement District, or BID.
One reporter, Steve Lopez, is taking matters into his own hands: “Get your camera or phone and send me photos of eyesores in your neighborhood or near your place of employment. Include the address, and I’ll take a look at as many as I can get to, publicize the filth and count the days until City Hall cleans it up.
If we don’t take charge, who will?”