HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — On a recent Wednesday afternoon at Angelica’s Day Care in Hollywood, Tanya Garcia was helping kids make bubbles.

Garcia’s mother, Angelica, founded the day care more than 30 years ago, but now she has the help of Tanya, her brother and sister. They grew up playing in the same yard they now use to provide care to 28 children. 

What You Need To Know

  • On Sept. 3, the LA City Council passed an ordinance that made it illegal to sleep, sit or camp within 500 feet of a day care, school, park or library

  • This week, LA councilmembers revealed the first list of 'sensitive areas' where the ordinance could soon be enforced

  • There will be outreach, signs posted and a waiting period before enforcement on the sites will begin

  • The City Council continued the motion on sensitive site enforcement until Nov. 2. On that date the Council could finalize the list of sites where enforcement will begin

“It’s more than just a business to us," said Garcia. "This is something that we take care of, (something) we value. We really cherish working with the children, the families."

They successfully navigated COVID-19 by splitting the kids into different areas to give them distance and outdoor time. However, the biggest challenge since the pandemic hit happened six months ago just beyond their walls, when a homeless encampment popped up across the street.

“There are fires going on outside, they are loud," said Garcia. "They fight between each other, and we don’t feel safe."

According to Garcia, when they would call the police, they would face retaliation, broken windows and burglaries — leading to a financial problem.

“We have had parents that have turned away simply because of the area," said Garcia. "They come outside and who wants to drop off their kids with this issue out front? It makes me feel, honestly, really sad, really helpless, because we put all our effort into this day care."

Across the street lives Sheradon Maki, 38, who has been homeless for almost four years. He began living in front of the day care about six months ago. Maki used to live in North Hollywood until he lost his job and then his housing.

“I saw the writing on the wall with the rent and a succession of intolerable, unbearable and no-account roommates,” he said.

Maki said he and his homeless neighbors do not bother anyone.

“We are not really a threat to the people that run a day care,” he said.

The problem, according to Maki, is they get lumped in with other homeless people who come by, some who are mentally ill, others who are criminals. He said there was one woman who would do drugs and then defecate on the sidewalk.

“One time she was doing it directly across the street from the day care over here and her presence is not predicated by me or anyone else in my camp,” he said.

However, Maki’s time in front of the day care may be ending because city councilman Mitch O’Farrell has identified the site as a sensitive area, which, since Sept. 3, prohibits sleeping, sitting or camping within 500 feet of a day care, school, park or library.

“It’s time to make sure that our public spaces are safe and secure for everyone,” said O’Farrell, who thinks that now is the time to do this because there are an “abundance of programs and resources available for unhoused individuals.”

The councilmember said it is a slow process: First, outreach will be done multiple times to homeless people living in sensitive areas and they will be offered housing and services. Signs will then be posted, followed by a waiting period before enforcement happens. 

Enforcement has not started, but O'Farrell has identified the area in front of Angelica’s Day Care as one of first sites to be cleaned up.

Maki said until something is done about the root cause of the issue, nothing will really change.

“What they are not taking into account is the generalized will of the people on the streets to do whatever they want," he said. "You can sweep them up today and they’ll wait three days and they’ll fill the hole back in."

Garcia, however, said she is determined, because her safety and livelihood are on the line.

“I’m never going to give up," she said. "I am going to continue contacting these politicians and the mayor. I always let them know. I’m not gonna stop."