LOS ANGELES — During the COVID-19 pandemic, vehicle dwellings were exempt from parking enforcement to help homeless people, but the Los Angeles City Council just voted to resume enforcement of vehicles that are dwelling in violation of no parking signs.
What You Need To Know
- In Playa del Rey, there’s a growing strip of RVs, cars and buses parked along Jefferson Boulevard
- One of buses houses a family of four that hopes to soon be in a better situation
- City enforcement of the vehicles dwelling illegally will resume on May 15
- But for the vehicles that are deemed hazardous, enforcement will resume immediately
In Playa del Rey, there’s a growing strip of RVs, cars and buses parked along Jefferson Boulevard that will soon be subject to enforcement and though many have claimed they would help find permanent housing for those living here, the entire length of the road is now filled along the Ballona Wetlands.
Carlos Carreon and Alonso Vargas are supposed to be managing those wetlands for an environmental organization called EcoKai, but every day, the two are cleaning up trash along the trail instead.
“Every day, there’s something different, from TVs to propane tanks, refrigerators,” Vargas explained as he picked up trash.
There was even a gun recently. It’s disheartening for the environmental scientist and technician who agreed that before COVID, no one used to park along this path.
Vargas says much of the path is trashed every day when they arrive.
“Everything on the other side of the fence line is gonna end up in the water,” he said.
But Vargas knows when he gets to Charles O’Neal’s bus, the area will be clean.
O’Neal says he’s been living here on Jefferson Boulevard for about nine months. He respects the land and wishes everybody else did, too.
“I think that’s the reason why they want us to move or they’re gonna start a governing ordinance because the people are tearing this stuff up,” he said.
O’Neal moved there with his 5-year-old daughter Jayla and pregnant wife after living in unsafe, unsanitary conditions in a South LA apartment for eight years.
O’Neal equipped his bus with the necessities: a sink, stove, refrigerator and even solar panels for electricity. But they don’t have running water, and every day, O’Neal has to sneak behind a nearby hospital to fill jugs.
“So we can take a shower, wash our hands, wash the dishes,” he explained.
It could be worse, so O’Neal chooses to remain positive. He says this life has taken a toll on him, but he refuses to grow weary. He’s been a model and even in music videos that he thought were going to be his big break, but he says he was never properly paid and just didn’t belong in the cutthroat industry.
So for now, O’Neal works 48 hours a week at the Ralphs deli a few blocks away to support his family, making a minimum wage that’s only a means to get to his true passion, producing music or even a documentary.
“With my daughter on the way, that’s just kind of giving me more of a motivation. ‘Daddy just go, just go, just go,’” he said.
O’Neal is teaching the one who’s already here the power of affirmations and speaking your desires into existence, even though they haven’t been able to find an apartment they can afford, and he’s not sure where they’ll go next if they’re forced to move.
“We wrote these words,” O’Neal showed. “Jayla is beautiful. I am rich.”
Depending on how you look at it, they are — and O’Neal says it’s a blessing to wake up to the beauty of the Ballona Wetlands every day.
It’s a mutual respect that Carreon and Vargas appreciate as well.
“Now it’s looking like it’s supposed to look,” Vargas said after cleaning for the day.
City enforcement of the vehicles dwelling illegally will resume on May 15, but for the vehicles that are deemed hazardous, enforcement will resume immediately.
O’Neal can be reached via social media at @therealcharlesoneal.