Sunday, October 16, 2005

Insanity Defense Only Possible Plea For Steve Lopez And The LA Times!,0,4505894.column?coll=la-story-footer

In today's column by Steve Lopez, following an excellent column he did last week - which I have not yet gotten around to addressing - and after a superb series of articles on the 'dumping' on Skid Row by the LA Times, this Philadelphia columnist visiting LA, states one of the most preposterous falsehoods ever told by a LA Times writer:

Roughly 10,000 people flop on skid row streets each night, up to half of them mentally ill. The landscape is relentlessly bleak, the stench of rotting trash and misery everywhere.

Now this quote is in an article based on five days he spent on Skid Row. Evidently, though, like too many recently arrived Times reporters, he was blindfolded the entire time, metaphorically if not physically.

First the minor point; there is a smell on some, but not all, parts of Skid Row. But it has little to do with rotting trash. The streets are swept very day and most sidewalks are washed almost every day. No trash is left long enough to rot. That the smell is from days or weeks old decomposing trash is simply not... true.

The smell that assaults one's olfactory senses on some parts of the Row is because not just the homeless but many other people in area use the public sidewalks as public restrooms.

But the real outrage is that if Lopez had spent even one night on Skid Row without his blindfold on - he would have realized there isn't even enough physical room on the sidewalks of Skid Row for 10,000 people to sleep every night.

That he could say anything this detached from reality without any of the editors realizing what he said was insane - proves how detached the LA Times is from this city.

To repeat, Steve Lopez did not say that 10,000 homeless people sleep every night on the streets of downtown.

He did not say that on Skid Row there are 10,000 homeless people, who sleep either on the streets or in shelters every night.

Both totally false statements, by the way.

Steve Lopez stated that 10,000 homeless people sleep - every night - on the streets of Skid Row.

The tragedy is when outsiders from back East who know nothing about Los Angeles and who appear to be incapable of ever learning anything about this city just make up 'facts' about what is happening down here - it only trivializes the seriousness of our problems. Maybe the best thing the LA Times could ever do for this city is to never again publish a single word about... Los Angeles.


To read my personal challenge to Steve Lopez to actually help me count the people sleeping on Skid Row go to:


Tim McGarry said...

Brady, any idea what the true numbers are, or where reliable estimates can be found?

amyalkon said...

I guess Mickey was wrong about the value of copy editors!

I just looked up the capacity of Staples Center:

"The seating capacity at the Staples Center is 19,000 for basketball and 16,000 for ice hockey. "

If we had a skid row population equivalent to over half of a packed Staples center laying around downtown every night...! What do the police do, come around at bedtime and stack them in piles 50 feet high so they don't block traffic?

Brady Westwater said...

My sweet Goddess Amy, you are - as always - perfectly correct!

And, Tim, the way to discover that correct number will shortly be revealed. Read later tonight or tomorrow.

dgarzila said...

Thanks brady . I didn't catch that one either.

Although I have seen the impact of an influx of the winter homeless arriving here in Central city East. Usually they begin to set up their tents along 5th street between wall and LOs angeles.

But you kow I didn't catch that . And you are totally correct , not all or parts of skid row smell due to rotting trash , it is because as you say people urinate on the sidewalks and the streets. AN dof course right on my building is where they urinate and my landlord has done nothing to mitigate this problem onlky clean up the mess twice a day , but in the evenings , it is still bad.

The weekends are getting worse now that the police for some reason have decided not to work on the weekends here.

dgarzila said...

Oh yeah on the weekend issue. Trash stays on the ground thorugh the weekend , unitl 4 am monday morning, but aggain we do have people come thorugh here on the weekends and pick up trash.

Brady Westwater said...

Thanks for the comments, Don - and hopefully you will take part in the true counting of the people who sleep at night on Skid Row I have proposed with Steve Lopez on

And you are right that trash pick-up can be slow over the weekends, but it is still not out on the streets long enough to start to rot.

Lastly, my point here is that we have real problems in Central City East neighborhood, and the only way we can deal with them is if we know what the real situation is - and not made up fantasy numbers and 'facts' that have no relationship with reality.

dgarzila said...

10,000 is pretty fantastical.

HWy did he write that?


Brady Westwater said...

He probably read it... in the LA Times...

Joe Zekas said...

There's a simple explanation here: maybe they asked the LA Times circulation guys to count the homeless. The circ guys may have done it by the books without leaving their desks- take total LA Times circ "counted as paid" in the area, and subtract the number of permanent residents to derive the number of homeless.