Valley Glen residents hope park renovations will fix homeless, crime in area
LOS ANGELES - City officials broke ground Monday on a $1.5 million renovation of a park in the San Fernando Valley that was recently overrun with homeless encampments and crime.
Residents near Laurel Grove Park in Valley Glen have reached out to FOX 11 over the last few months, concerned about crime and fires related to the homeless RVs established near the park. Several weeks ago, residents shared videos of an RV fire near Westpark Drive that damaged other cars. The fire was believed to have been caused by a propane gas exploding inside the RV.
No injuries were reported in the fire, but residents in the area blamed the RV and homeless encampment for the explosion. The encampment had also been blamed for reported shootings and suspected drug deals and neighbors in the area say they feel under siege.
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The city's regular cleanups helped the situation, despite some RVs only moving slightly.
The RVs didn't stick around for Monday's groundbreaking. The upcoming renovations will include new trails and playground equipment, lighting and cameras, much to the delight of residents.
"Your story was key in the ability to do this," said Jeff Hartman of the Laurel Grove Neighborhood Association. "Westpark Drive by Erwin Street, there were campers lined up here with types of activity that was not benefiting community at all."
One resident told FOX 11 that they were happy to see change in the area, but said they're skeptical as to whether that change will be permanent.
"Yeah, it's good to see that something is happening but we are so concerned that as soon as it's over with maybe the RVs will creep back in," they said.
Los Angeles City Council President Paul Krekorian addressed that skepticism. When asked if these changes can be lasting he said, "Oh absolutely. But it takes sustained continuous effort. Anyone who thinks we are simply going to solve the challenge of homelessness, and we are done is misinformed. This is going to be a continuing, ongoing challenge to house people who need housing and also make sure our neighborhoods are safe and are kept free from the adverse impacts of homelessness."