Homeless crisis escalating in Sherman Oaks; man throws feces at business owner
LOS ANGELES - On Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks, a homeless man angrily yells, "You want to have a fight?"
An unhoused woman walks back and forth saying, "Isis, Isis, Isis."
Yet another man, presumably under the influence of drugs, screams, "You gotta die, you gotta die, you gotta die!"
Business owner Paul Scrivano describes his community this way, "Every day, it’s like one flew over the cuckoo’s nest, literally a psych ward."
Scrivano is the owner of The Blue Dog Beer Tavern. He’s had about all he can take from a man who openly defecates on Ventura Boulevard.
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"Every single morning, I’m wiping that off my property before I have to do business," Scrivano said.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, one morning, the unhoused man tossed a bag of his human waste onto Scrivano’s SUV.
"Many business owners are at their wits end, they're not getting the responsiveness that they need and that they deserve," says Attorney Larry Slade, the Chair of the Homelessness Committee for the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association.
"Individual homeless people will camp out in front of a store, make it their home, bring their possessions, use it as a bedroom. In the morning, when the business owners come to open up, they have to try to deal with a homeless person literally blocking the entrance to their business and then, they have to deal with cleaning up hazardous waste right in front of their business, right in Sherman Oaks, right on Ventura Boulevard," Slade said.
"It’s mostly the criminal aspect of the homeless and unhoused," said Theo Mavro, owner of The Sherman, a restaurant in the area.
The business owners have repeatedly called police and city officials, but they say their pleas for help have fallen on deaf ears.
"There is anger in the community. It is palpable, and we want to address it proactively and we're going to do everything in our power to make sure that happens, including leaning on any elected official," Slade said.
LA City Councilwoman Nithya Raman represents the 4th district which includes Sherman Oaks. Business owners say they have called, emailed, and tagged her on social media posts.
Scrivano sends her office, videos of the homeless making threats and going to the bathroom on Ventura Boulevard. He was told to stop sending such graphic material.
"Nithya Ramen does not care, she does not care," Scrivano said.
FOX 11 caught up with Raman at a public event. She argued the unhoused are people too.
"The reality is that people who are experiencing homelessness are still individuals who are there on the streets because they don’t have a home," Raman said.
Raman says the only way to solve this crisis is to fix the problem that leads to homelessness and that she says, is lack of housing.
"No matter how many times you move them from one location, they are still people who don’t have homes, and so they’re simply gonna move down the street," Raman said.
"Where is the compassion in leaving someone on the street when they clearly cannot help themselves in any way?" Raman was asked.
"I don’t believe that anyone who is suffering from mental illness should not be receiving the care that they deserve," Raman responded.
But with only one mental health outreach team working in the San Fernando Valley, too many people are staying exactly where they are without receiving any help.
"The rights of the homeless cannot exceed the rights of the homeowners and the business owners. There has to be a balance between those two rights, and right now, that balance is tipping mightily in favor of the homeless to the detriment of the people that live here and work here," Slade said. "We're not insensitive to these issues, but it's gotten to the point, it's beyond control and something has got to give."