‘Maintenance’ along LA River bike path could displace homeless, create detours for cyclists

People living along the Los Angeles River bike path were busy Wednesday afternoon packing up their belongings into wagons, strollers or whatever they could fit into their arms as city crews worked their way toward them in a sweep of the encampments along the river’s embankments.

The operations are part of a two-week “maintenance” operation announced by the city Monday that could displace several unhoused people living in the riverbed, and force cyclists to take alternate routes.

Notices from the Los Angeles County Public Works Department were stapled to trees and taped to the wall separating the bike path from the river’s embankment late last week, but those affected by the operation said there was no other communication.

The notices advised that they were trespassing on county property and personal belongings removed from the area would be stored for 90 days, but no address was provided for where they would be stored.

Jaharri Bumphus, who was walking toward Downtown and the crews that were loading scraps of makeshift shelters into work trucks, said there are usually promises of connecting people to housing, but this time there were just the notices.

“They put the papers down a few days before they showed up to clean up and throw everyone’s stuff out,” Bumphus said.

Another man who identified himself by only his first name, Pelon, welcomed the cleanup. He said he and his partner try to keep their space as sparse as possible. He walked north along the bike path with some clothes, laundry detergent and a five-gallon bottle of water loaded into a stroller.

“Some people make it messy and hard for everyone,” he said, adding that he remains quiet about the mess because he was recently in prison.

Who exactly is leading the cleanup operation is unclear.

A Long Beach Public Works account tweeted out Monday that the county was conducting “maintenance” along the bike path from Artesia Boulevard to Ocean Boulevard and that disruptions could be experienced by cyclists through April 18.

However, a spokesperson from the county Public Works office said Wednesday morning that the county was not involved and that Long Beach was the lead agency and that county contractors (Blue Ocean) were assisting the city departments.

Wednesday afternoon several Long Beach agencies were present along the riverbed, including the Long Beach Police Department, the Health and Human Services Department, the city’s Clean Team and Ocean Blue Environmental Services Inc., a company that the county and the city contract with to clean up potentially hazardous sites like homicides and homeless encampments.

A spokesperson from the Long Beach Public Works office did not respond to several requests for comment.

‘People have to know we are human’: Homeless cleared from prominent encampment Downtown

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Jason Ruiz has been covering City Hall for the Post for nearly a decade. A Long Beach resident, Ruiz graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a degree in journalism. He and his wife Kristina and, most importantly, their dog Mango, live in Long Beach. He is a particularly avid fan of the Dallas Cowboys and the UCLA Bruins, which is why he sometimes comes to work after the weekend in a grumpy mood.
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