This is an important update about the serious issues we're dealing with in Downtown LA, and their visible effects here in the Fashion District. While this email is lengthy, I encourage you to take the time to read through it carefully. It is vital, as a property owner and stakeholder in the district, that you receive this information and have a thorough understand of these issues.


Last week’s news of the highly criticized Mitchell settlement was followed immediately by a barrage of local and national media outlets descending on Downtown Los Angeles to cover outlandish amounts of trash and illegal dumping that occurs daily. The Fashion District BID has been part of a broad coalition of people and organizations working to educate our elected officials on how the various legal cases and flawed policy decisions have impacted the ability for homeless individuals to access housing and services as well as limited the government’s ability to maintain the public realm. The abdication of maintaining and regulating the use of the public realm has negatively impacted the residents (including our unhoused neighbors), businesses and visitors of Downtown Los Angeles. 

The City has allowed nearly 40,000+ people to live in public spaces without any services; trash pickup, sewer, showers, toilets, kitchen, or laundry.  There are approximately 400 people sleeping in the 110-block area of the Fashion District BID each night , which is nearly equivalent to the number of residents living in the 25-story residential tower recently opened at 8 th and Spring Streets. Living on the street is not a viable “lifestyle” choice and yet, by settling the Mitchell lawsuit, the City is allowing individuals an unlimited amount of personal items to remain in the public right-of-way.

The Annual Homeless Count results released this week show that the City of Los Angeles has seen a 16% increase in individuals experiencing homelessness. Nearly 22,000 homeless people were housed last year (a 23% increase over last year), showing there has been some success, but we have a long way to go to solve this crisis. Homelessness is up everywhere. According to the Homeless Count, persons experiencing homelessness rose 22% in Riverside County, 23% in San Bernardino County, 29% in Ventura County and 43% in Orange County. The Bridge to Home temporary housing facilities currently at El Pueblo and soon to be open at 1426 Paloma Street are important initiatives, but will be futile if people are allowed to sleep in public spaces with unlimited personal belongings.

Housing costs continue to rise. There is a major housing shortage in our city (as there is around the country). The housing shortage is driving prices up faster than inflation and wage growth. Along with purchasing a home, rents are skyrocketing. The homeless count, includes a 24% increase in the number of homeless young people and a 7% increase among seniors. This seems to be in direct response to housing costs.  Approximately 1/3 of all renting households in Los Angeles pay more than half of their income on housing, according to  Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies . In L.A. County, about 600,000 people — 6% of the county's population — live in households where 90% of all income goes to housing, according to the Economic Round Table !

Additionally, we are facing a massive opioid epidemic in the country. According to the National Center for Health Statistics of the CDC , drug overdose deaths have gone from 16,849 in 1999 to 70,237 in 2017. The opioid epidemic isn’t discussed much in the Los Angeles media, but it is no doubt a factor and challenge for the unsheltered population. We see it every single day.  For example, we’ve seen a 59% increase in the number of needles picked up by our clean team members .

The severely mentally ill have nowhere to go to be properly taken care of humanely. It is alarming to see the number of people in some kind of manic or psychotic episode every day and sometimes on every block. We have tried to clothe naked women, save a man walking in traffic down the middle of the road, offer to help access VA benefits, etc . We know these people by name and we know their stories. In downtown alone, LAPD assists a daily average of almost 4 severely mentally ill persons by placing them in a 5150 hold to try to get them the help they need. (A 5150 hold is a CA Law code that places people in a 72 hour temporary, involuntary psychiatric hold if they present a danger to themselves or others due to signs of mental illness). Of course, 72 hours is just not enough time to get some people the help they need.

Furthermore, illegal dumping in the City is at an all-time high. A lot of it can be seen around the encampments. Some of it is surely “household trash” from those living on the street without curbside pick-up, but much more of it is that our City has become a dumping ground by people abusing the system. For example, since RecycLA went into effect last summer -- we have experienced tenants and landlords cheating the system instead of absorbing the large increase in fees associated with the new program . To make matters worse, the City delayed any enforcement for the first year. The BID has seen more than an 80% increase in the amount of trash we are picking up daily and 90% of that increase is from merchants and other culprits of illegal dumping.   The BID now picks up 28,000 pounds of trash a day, and just last week, 100 pounds of fecal matter was dumped on the street at Santee and 16 th Streets.

The consequences of these policy decisions did not cause the homeless crisis, but it does make it more difficult to solve some of the growing problems happening in our public spaces. The BID is an urban champion. We believe in sustaining vibrant neighborhood districts and are charged with providing special attention to the public realm. As a place management organization, we drive change through planning, leadership, marketing, economic development and policy & advocacy to create and sustain robust and diverse communities. We will continue to work at all levels of government to communicate urgency and the need for changes. Solving the issue of homelessness should be about taking actions that help individuals while also maintaining a welcoming, livable place for all downtown residents, businesses and visitors.  
Administration Office
818 S. Broadway St. #801
Los Angeles, CA 90079
Tel: 213.488.1153
Fax: 213.488.5159
Clean & Safe Team Field Office
424 E. 15th Street, #11
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Tel: 213.741.2661 (24-HR RESPONSE)
Fax: 213.741.2666
© 2014 LA Fashion District, All Rights Reserved.
Developed by The Ocean Group Inc. Please read our Privacy Policy | Terms of Use