LOS ANGELES—A portion of MacArthur Park will close at 10:30 p.m. Oct. 15 for “much-needed deferred maintenance,” which will require the relocation of some homeless who have lived there during the pandemic.
Los Angeles spokesman Conroado TerrazasCross told The Epoch Times there were 10 tents at the park occupied by the homeless as of Thursday.
There were 27 tents at the park just over a week ago, he said.
Los Angeles City Councilman Gil Cedillo’s office said they began offering shelter options to people living in the park starting last January, and as of Thursday, nearly 270 people had been moved indoors.
The affected area will close for 10 weeks.
The move to close the park drew criticism from homeless advocates on Twitter, comparing the anticipated closure to that of Echo Park in March, which saw protests for several days and nearly 200 arrests, including that of journalists.
But Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, who oversaw that operation, has touted it as a success, saying that as a result, many of the homeless there were placed into some sort of housing.
It’s unclear how many have found permanent housing since.
Cedillo has gone to effort to hopefully have a smoother cleanup at MacArthur Park compared to that of Echo Park.
He said the homeless have been given advance notice on Friday’s cleanup for the last 10 months, while it was last-minute for Echo Park.
Once the cleanup is complete, Cedillo also noted fencing around MacArthur Park will be removed, while most around Echo Park remains up.
“It is not acceptable to allow people to live and die in squalor in public parks or public spaces, which is why my team and I—along with many partners—worked hard for several months to ensure success in providing housing solutions and services to nearly 200 people who had been living at Echo Park Lake. Others are free to compare and contrast Echo Park Lake to other locations in the city, but my focus will remain on my district, my constituents and my work to house the unhoused,” O’Farrell said in response.
Cedillo’s office said the goal of the closure is to make the park safe and clean for residents of the dense neighborhood, many of whom don’t have other outdoor space.
The park’s maintenance has been deferred for more than 19 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We want to provide a safe, clean and secure park for all people that come to MacArthur Park to play, relax and enjoy this precious open space that lies in the heart of our low-income neighborhood of Westlake,” Cedillo said in a statement.
The park improvements include a new playground, synthetic soccer field, new sod, landscaping, and a dance floor for the Levitt Pavilion bandshell, according to Cedillo’s office.
During the closure, the Department of Recreation and Parks will conduct electrical repairs, lighting repairs and upgrades, landscape reseeding, painting, irrigation repairs and upgrades, signage replacements and park furniture repairs and replacement.