Valley businesses demand action over homeless, RV squatters

A petition that was sent around business in Chatsworth and Northridge was submitted this week demanding that Councilman Mitch Englander take "immediate action" to get rid of the homeless encampments and RVs plaguing the area's industrial parks.

Real estate broker Scott Caswell started the petition. He said more than 600 signatures collected reflect how bad the situation is. The petition's cover letter said:

"We are seeking a remedy for the blight, unsanitary conditions, property theft and business disruption that is adversely affecting not only our businesses but the economy of the San Fernando Valley. We cannot preserve and grow the economy of our beloved San Fernando Valley if our employees do not feel safe when they come to work and our businesses are plagued by theft and vandalism.”

Earlier this year the city of L.A. enacted a law banning people from living out of their cars throughout most of the city, but allowing them on most commercial and industrial streets.

Caswell told the LA Daily News:

“It hit so quickly. The law “got thrown on our laps about eight months ago, and there’s been a deluge of RV camping and abuse, and it went out of control.”

Councilman Englander responded to the petition by saying that he voted against the law allowing vehicle dwelling in industrial and commercial areas:

"While residents are understandably fed up with a problem that continues to grow in scope year after year, I’m determined to continue tackling the issue so that the current crisis never becomes the status quo."

Here are some first-hand accounts from business owners and tenants, detailing the severity of the problem:

Absolutely disgusted with this situation. We have human feces and dirty diapers being thrown on our roof. All of our sprinkler heads as well as our terminals have all been stolen on a monthly basis. Fights break out in our parking lot from several different homeless people.

Homeless camps here are becoming an overwhelming problem. The vagrant RV's are stealing our water to fill their tanks which has adversely affected our water bill, and camp out in our rear parking lot, as well as line the street, taking up valuable parking space for customers and employees. They leave behind human waste, trash, and create shelter structures around our garbage dumpsters enclosures, eliminating access for the sanitation dept to empty them.
Business Owner

It's dangerous to even walk the streets around here. I have had to change my lock, get a camera and purchase Bear Spray for safety. This is no way to live or work.

We have had to spend nearly $1000 to have pest control bait for cockroaches infesting our building and planters from food, trash, clothing and bedding being dumped at our facility.  It was also found that they had connected a hose to our hose bib and were using our water as well as using our dumpsters that are within our private property lines.They are an eyesore to our business.  At one point, the motorhomes that were parked outside of our building had set up chairs as a patio, set up a television on the sidewalk and chained a scooter to the tree.  
Business Owner

That's just a handful of accounts, but it's enough to make you understand the madness!

Click here to read more at the LA Daily News.

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