The years-long failure of Los Angeles politicians to address the homeless crisis was made stark to residents of Sherman Oaks, the affluent San Fernando Valley city of roughly 70,000, as the bodies of three unhoused people were discovered on its streets in just one week.
A woman believed to be between the ages of 50 to 60 was found dead in the shopping center off of the intersection of Moorpark Street and Sylmar Avenue on Wednesday, and the corpses of two men, one in his 60s and one in his 40s, were also found in the area this week, the L.A. County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Office confirmed to LAMag. The woman and the man in his 60s both died of natural causes, while the third person’s cause of death is unknown.
None of the bodies were pulled for examination since foul play is not suspected, so the dead have not been identified, the coroner’s office said.
Local business owners say their efforts to get officials to act have gone nowhere.
“I have five or six RVs on the other side of my shopping center and they’re literally dealing drugs there,” Angela Marsden, owner of the local Pineapple Hill Saloon and Grill, in the shopping center where the woman’s body was found Wednesday, tells us.
Marsden says that she and a group of other local business owners have tried repeatedly to contact Councilwoman Nithya Raman, only to be redirected to a counseling team that handles cases involving the homeless. Raman did eventually visit Sherman Oaks, speaking to Marsden and a homeless woman named Maria to try and get her housing. At first, Maria said she wanted to work with the counselors to relocate, but officials then told Marsden she changed her mind.
“It’s not okay and it’s not acceptable,” Marsden said. “If we don’t continue to shine a light in the darkness it won’t get better. How do we get to a place where we allow ourselves to be numb and let a human being be treated less than a dog?”
Back in September, many business owners in Sherman Oaks had their concerns addressed by both Karen Bass and Rick Caruso during the lead-up to the L.A. mayoral race. Afterward a man threw feces at owner Paul Scrivano, prompting Bass to say, “What that man did was unacceptable, and he should be held accountable.”
Caruso responded broadly, saying that “the owners have rights and the people in the community have rights.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom recently bdugeted $1 billion to aid in reducing the number of unhoused people across the state, though he previously withheld these funds due to officials that needed to “do better” on homelessness.
“What I want to see is what everybody wants to see: the streets of California cleaned up,” Newsom has said. “We want to see encampments cleaned up, we want to see people housed.”