Sherman Oaks business owners fed up with escalating homeless issues: Caruso, Bass respond

Surrounded by Sherman Oaks business owners, mayoral candidate Rick Caruso said, "The owners have rights and the people in the community have rights." 

He was referring to the homeless who have invaded certain businesses and harassed customers. "The people on the streets are living and dying on the streets, which is inhumane and wrong, and all these businesses and these families are impacted by it," said Caruso. 

They have been impacted in numerous ways, from a homeless man throwing a bag of his own poop at business owner Paul Scrivano, to a homeless woman who constantly harasses the owner and customers of Pineapple Hill Saloon and Grill. Of course, who can forget the stabbing of an employee of Casa Vega who was just heading to work when someone on the bus stabbed him in the stomach outside the restaurant? These business owners say enough is enough. 

They’re looking to Caruso to help them restore peace in their community. When we asked Caruso if he planned to remove the homeless who camp at or near businesses, he said, "Well it’s a good question, we’re gonna build shelters. We’re gonna start building sustainable homes and get affordable housing." But what if they don’t want housing? Caruso says, "There’s gonna be some that will refuse care and at some point, we will say, ‘You can no longer live on the street, we have a bed for you.'" 

Christy Vega, owner of Casa Vega Mexican restaurant liked what she heard from Caruso. She said, "I’m hopeful for the first time because I have personally banged on every politician’s door on LA City for the past two years and have been dismissed, ignored or basically shamed that we were criminalizing poverty and criminalizing poverty just means that they’re allowed to do what they want." 

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We reached out to Karen Bass for comment on the homelessness crisis in the Sherman Oaks community. She issued the following statement: 

"What that man did was unacceptable, and he should be held accountable," Bass said, regarding the man who threw his feces at a business owner. "As mayor, I will house people immediately in both temporary and permanent housing because we must solve homelessness, not just move people around. Mr. Caruso’s shelter plan is insufficient and inhumane — we simply cannot hide people in a shelter similar to Fort Bliss which was the Trump Administration’s approach along the border with Mexico."