Tag Archives: LA Sanitation

LA City Sanitation Blatantly Lied In A Response To A CPRA Request For Information About Ride-Alongs With CARE/CARE+ Encampment Sweep Teams — They Said They Didn’t Do Ride-Alongs — But I Already Knew — And Could Prove — Using Evidence Produced By LA San In Response To Another Request — That They Did Before I Made The Request — This Kind Of Dishonest Nonsense Completely Derails Requests From People Who Don’t Know That They Lie About CPRA Requests All The Time — And Is The Zillionth Reason We So Badly Need A Municipal Sunshine Law In The City Charter

The City of Los Angeles famously and frequently violates the California Public Records Act. One of the most difficult-to-counter ways in which they do this is to deny that they have responsive records at all. It’s pernicious because the only recourse for violations is to file a petition in Los Angeles County Superior Court but the statute only authorizes petitions when:

it is made to appear by verified petition … that certain public records are being improperly withheld from a member of the public.1

That is, if the City says there are no records and there’s no evidence to the contrary it’s likely a judge will believe the City’s claim and deny the petition.2 Which means it’s often useful to have evidence that responsive records exist even before requesting them. It’s also really important to duplicate requests to as many City departments as may have copies, since they all have different search methods.3

Fairly regularly one City department will say that there are no responsive records while another one will produce proof that the first was lying. For a recent and spectacular example of this phenomenon take a look at this stunningly good Twitter thread from @LANCWatch.

Sometimes even the same department will produce proof that they themselves are lying, an example of which is the subject of today’s post! On June 19, 2021 I asked LA Sanitation for some information about ride-alongs on their CARE/CARE+ homeless encampment sweeps:
Continue reading LA City Sanitation Blatantly Lied In A Response To A CPRA Request For Information About Ride-Alongs With CARE/CARE+ Encampment Sweep Teams — They Said They Didn’t Do Ride-Alongs — But I Already Knew — And Could Prove — Using Evidence Produced By LA San In Response To Another Request — That They Did Before I Made The Request — This Kind Of Dishonest Nonsense Completely Derails Requests From People Who Don’t Know That They Lie About CPRA Requests All The Time — And Is The Zillionth Reason We So Badly Need A Municipal Sunshine Law In The City Charter

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According To LAPD Senior Lead Officer Adrian Lopez “providing services to the homeless is useless. The homeless need to be removed … and the area cleaned and restored back to its original state.” — The City Of LA Cedes Municipal Services To Private Actors Like BIDs — Who Are Incapable And Unwilling To Provide Them — And To Police — Who Are Incapable Of Delivering Anything Other Than Violence — Here’s An Example From Little Tokyo

In January 2021 Lorena Ochoa of the Los Angeles Conservation Corps emailed Ellen Endo of the Little Tokyo Business Improvement District to tell her that one of their Big Belly trash cans often had hypodermic needles in it and that therefore they wouldn’t service it any more:

Just want to bring to your attention the high volume of syringes being tossed inside this bigbelly. I cannot have the corpsmember driver service anymore bigbelly’s under these conditions. It’s a safety hazardous matter taking syringes to the City of LA sanitation site. I’m going to attach a list of Call Active Clean up companies that can come out and service these types of matters.

Endo wrote to Adriana Velasquez, a staffer in CD14 rep Kevin De Leon’s office, explaining Ochoa’s position and suggesting that they replace the Big Bellies with normal wire trash cans as soon as possible:
Continue reading According To LAPD Senior Lead Officer Adrian Lopez “providing services to the homeless is useless. The homeless need to be removed … and the area cleaned and restored back to its original state.” — The City Of LA Cedes Municipal Services To Private Actors Like BIDs — Who Are Incapable And Unwilling To Provide Them — And To Police — Who Are Incapable Of Delivering Anything Other Than Violence — Here’s An Example From Little Tokyo

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Despicable Streets Of Shame Reporter Joel Grover Emailed LA Sanitation Boss Flackie Elena Stern Asking For A Bunch Of Info — Stern’s Subordinates Asked Her Why Didn’t She Make Him Use NextRequest — Stern Explained That “we have to decide whether or not it’s worth it to antagonize a reporter like Grover” — She Said: “because it’s him, I’m not making him go through CPRA” — Then She Sent Him The Goodies Via Return Email — So I Asked Her For The Same Stuff Just Yesterday — Via Email — And Her Response Was Quite Different — She Refused Me Stating That “all CPRAs are to be submitted through the NextRequest portal” — Because She — Or Her Masters In The Department Of Public Works — Like Joel Grover’s Reporting And They Don’t Like Mine — Which Is Egregious — And Illegal — And Immoral — And Entirely Normal For The City Of Los Angeles

Ask the LA City Bureau of Sanitation, popularly known as “LA San,” for public records and you’ll almost certainly be subjected to obstructions, delays, lies, and so on. And since LA San signed up for NextRequest, a despicable and useless public records platform, you’ll be forced to communicate with anonymous City staffers through a clunky script-heavy website that barely works on a computer and just forget about your phone all together.

Unless, of course, you happen to work for NBC Universal or the LA Times. Elena Stern, Senior Public Information Director with the Department of Public Works, which includes LA San, is happy to handle your CPRA requests informally via email. This is no accident, by the way. Stern clearly understands the utter uselessness of NextRequest, and the pain it causes. Here’s the story.
Continue reading Despicable Streets Of Shame Reporter Joel Grover Emailed LA Sanitation Boss Flackie Elena Stern Asking For A Bunch Of Info — Stern’s Subordinates Asked Her Why Didn’t She Make Him Use NextRequest — Stern Explained That “we have to decide whether or not it’s worth it to antagonize a reporter like Grover” — She Said: “because it’s him, I’m not making him go through CPRA” — Then She Sent Him The Goodies Via Return Email — So I Asked Her For The Same Stuff Just Yesterday — Via Email — And Her Response Was Quite Different — She Refused Me Stating That “all CPRAs are to be submitted through the NextRequest portal” — Because She — Or Her Masters In The Department Of Public Works — Like Joel Grover’s Reporting And They Don’t Like Mine — Which Is Egregious — And Illegal — And Immoral — And Entirely Normal For The City Of Los Angeles

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September 2019 CARE/CARE+ Team Training Powerpoint From LA Bureau Of Sanitation Reveals Incredible Detail About Team Organization — Including Daily Schedules — Team Roles And Size Of Teams — Differences Between CARE And CARE+ — Guidelines For How To Do Outreach To Encampment Residents — When To Call In LAPD — Role Of Unified Homelessness Response Center — SECZ Rules — Some Of This Has Changed Recently But Much Of The Structural Info Is Probably Still Good — And It’s Fascinating To Compare The City’s Humanitarian Self-Presentation With The Actual Reality Of Encampment Sweeps

I recently obtained a few huge sets of records from the Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation and wrote about them here. The most important record in the set, by far, is this 96 slide Powerpoint presentation from September 2019.1 The date is significant as that’s when,thanks to the indefatigable Services Not Sweeps Coalition, the City implemented a new and putatively more humane version of its encampment sweep policy.

The point of this training is to explain these new policies to the Sanitation staff responsible for conducting the actual sweeps, how they’re expected to behave, when to call in LAPD, and so on. In July 2020 the City Council apparently abandoned this ostensibly humane approach, with predictably appalling results, making at least some of the information in the Powerpoint file outdated, but the organizational information is likely to still be accurate. Also note that the claims about the City’s humanitarian goals were false at the time and by now they’ve actually dropped the pretense. So while it’s tempting to expose the hypocrisy in detail it’s not useful enough for me to spend the time on it.
Continue reading September 2019 CARE/CARE+ Team Training Powerpoint From LA Bureau Of Sanitation Reveals Incredible Detail About Team Organization — Including Daily Schedules — Team Roles And Size Of Teams — Differences Between CARE And CARE+ — Guidelines For How To Do Outreach To Encampment Residents — When To Call In LAPD — Role Of Unified Homelessness Response Center — SECZ Rules — Some Of This Has Changed Recently But Much Of The Structural Info Is Probably Still Good — And It’s Fascinating To Compare The City’s Humanitarian Self-Presentation With The Actual Reality Of Encampment Sweeps

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Huge Set Of Records From LA Bureau Of Sanitation — Including A 96 Slide Training Powerpoint For The CARE/CARE+ Team Revisions In September 2019 — And Job Descriptions For CARE/CARE+ Staff — And An Incredibly Rich But Sadly Mostly Pretty Old Spreadsheets From LA San’s Livability Services Division — Which Coordinates Encampment Sweeps — Lots Of Stuff To Look At Here

I recently obtained a huge pile of records from LA Sanitation about encampment sweeps and some other issues. Most of them are current versions of the kind of things we’ve seen before, but there are also a few unexpected and incredibly interesting items.

The most important, the most shocking of these is a 96 slide powerpoint presentation prepared by LA San to train its homeless encampment sweep teams in the new protocols adopted by the City of Los Angeles in September 2019.1 I wrote a separate post just on this one item. The others are job descriptions of the various roles in the encampment sweep teams. Here are links to the three full sets:

CARE/CARE+ job descriptions — These are from November 2019. The relevant ones are:2
      ▸ Environmental Compliance Inspector
      ▸ Maintenance Laborer
      ▸ Refuse Collection Truck Operator
      ▸ Senior Environmental Compliance Inspector

LA San training materials — This looks like the most important set of the three right now.3 Four of these came to me as Powerpoint files, and I exported those to PDF for convenience and they’re what’s linked to below.4 The rest were PDFs originally.
      ▸ 56.11 Public Information Powerpoint — From October 2016, so completely outdated by now, but of historical interest.
      ▸ Biological Agents Decontamination Policy
      ▸ Bloodborne Pathogens PPT — Perhaps made by OSHA?
      ▸ CARE/CARE+ Training Powerpoint September 2019 — This is an immensely important document. I’ll be writing about it separately.
      ▸ Human Waste Cleanup Policy — From February 2019.
      ▸ LA San 56.11 Standard Operating Procedure — From 2018 so only of historical interest now.
      ▸ Clean Harbors Staff Enforcement Manual — I’m not sure what this is.
      ▸ LA San Operation Healthy Streets Bloodborne Pathogen Control Plan — From 2018.
      ▸ Bloodborne Pathogen Training Course Outline — I’m also not sure what this is.

Spreadsheets from LA Sanitation — Sanitation does a lot of its sweep scheduling and planning via spreadsheets, many stored on the City’s Google Drive account so they can be collaboratively edited. This is a set of 44 spreadsheets of various kinds. There is a lot to be learned from these, but I’m not going to write about them in detail.
Continue reading Huge Set Of Records From LA Bureau Of Sanitation — Including A 96 Slide Training Powerpoint For The CARE/CARE+ Team Revisions In September 2019 — And Job Descriptions For CARE/CARE+ Staff — And An Incredibly Rich But Sadly Mostly Pretty Old Spreadsheets From LA San’s Livability Services Division — Which Coordinates Encampment Sweeps — Lots Of Stuff To Look At Here

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A Brief Discussion Of How Homeless Encampment Sweeps Are Scheduled In The City Of Los Angeles — Or At Least Part Of The Process — The Whole Thing Is Driven By Housedweller Complaints — Filtered Through Council Districts As Political Patronage — LAHSA Involvement — Every Kind Of Outreach — Is Basically A Cover For Relocation — The Only Actual Goal

A couple days ago it came out on Twitter that a lot of people in Los Angeles don’t understand how homeless encampment sweeps get scheduled and why, in particular how encampments to be swept are chosen. I promised to write a post about it, and here we are!1 Part of the reason for the delay is that the story is really complex, so I’m just going to talk qualitatively about how encampments end up being targeted by Council Districts and leave the rest for another post or two.2 For instance, the City has two kinds of sweep teams, which are CARE and CARE+, but I’m not going to talk about the differences,3 which are probably important, but not for this post.

Each Council Office has a staffer whose job is to work out their District’s sweep schedule with LA Sanitation. I think that ordinarily every request for a sweep in a given District goes through this San contact.4 The scheduling is done by email as well as by editing Google Docs, and the emails occasionally reveal the reason a given encampment is being targeted. Here are the sets of records this post is mostly5 based on. If you’re interested in the subject it’s really worth looking at these. There’s a lot more information there than I’m using here:

Some 2020 Emails Between CDs and LA San

Housedweller Complaints to Juan Fregoso About Echo Park Encampments — From 2019 and 2020

CD15 Emails With LA Sanitation — January through May 2020
Continue reading A Brief Discussion Of How Homeless Encampment Sweeps Are Scheduled In The City Of Los Angeles — Or At Least Part Of The Process — The Whole Thing Is Driven By Housedweller Complaints — Filtered Through Council Districts As Political Patronage — LAHSA Involvement — Every Kind Of Outreach — Is Basically A Cover For Relocation — The Only Actual Goal

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Huge Record Releases From Los Angeles Sanitation — Encampment Sweep Scheduling — And So On — CD13 Staffer Hector Vega Scheduled A Full-On Encampment Sweep After The City Had Announced It Was Stopping Them Due To COVID — Possibly Sacrificing Human Lives To Build Up His Favor Bank With LADOT Ticket-Fixer Freddie Nuño — And It Turns Out That LAPD Can Actually Choose Encampments To Target For Sweeps — Which Surprised Me Because Mostly People Talk As If LAPD’s Role Is Backing Up LAHSA And LA San — Not Choosing Sweep Targets — And Finally CD15 Staffers Gabriela Medina And Jacob Haik Gloat Gleefully About The Possibility Of Weaponizing Scheduled Street Resurfacing To Displace RV Dwellers During The Pandemic When It Would Probably Otherwise Be Illegal To Do So — And Whether Or Not It’s Illegal It’s Certainly Reprehensible — And More Than Reprehensible During The Pandemic

Over the last few days I’ve received a few massive releases of records from Los Angeles Sanitation about homeless encampment sweep authorizations. There’s far, far too much information here for one post but I want to get links published because the information is essential. The records illuminate a number of important issues, not least of which has to do with the sweep selection process.1

For the most part encampments to be swept are chosen by Council District offices, who make selections based on complaints from property owners and probably other reasons too. These records reveal something I hadn’t seen before, though, which is that on its own initiative LAPD can also select encampments to be swept. Here are links to the new material, followed by a story or two gleaned from it.

CD15 2020 sweep scheduling emails

Various CDs 2020 sweep scheduling emails

2020 Sanitation sweep completion reports
Continue reading Huge Record Releases From Los Angeles Sanitation — Encampment Sweep Scheduling — And So On — CD13 Staffer Hector Vega Scheduled A Full-On Encampment Sweep After The City Had Announced It Was Stopping Them Due To COVID — Possibly Sacrificing Human Lives To Build Up His Favor Bank With LADOT Ticket-Fixer Freddie Nuño — And It Turns Out That LAPD Can Actually Choose Encampments To Target For Sweeps — Which Surprised Me Because Mostly People Talk As If LAPD’s Role Is Backing Up LAHSA And LA San — Not Choosing Sweep Targets — And Finally CD15 Staffers Gabriela Medina And Jacob Haik Gloat Gleefully About The Possibility Of Weaponizing Scheduled Street Resurfacing To Displace RV Dwellers During The Pandemic When It Would Probably Otherwise Be Illegal To Do So — And Whether Or Not It’s Illegal It’s Certainly Reprehensible — And More Than Reprehensible During The Pandemic

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How I Finally — For Only The Second Freaking Time Ever — Got Advance Notice Of Some Homeless Encampment Sweeps From LA Sanitation Via The Public Records Act After Three Long Years Of Fighting With Them About It — And How They Told Me That I Couldn’t Look At The Next Day’s Schedule But Only Today’s — So I Showed Up At The Public Works Building This Morning At 7 AM And Eventually Did Get To See The Schedule — Which Is A Huge Breakthrough! — But It Also Became Clear That They Have Not Been Fully Honest In Their Claim That The Schedules Aren’t Produced In Advance — So The Next Phase Is To Get The Next Day’s Schedules Each Afternoon

I have been trying to use the California Public Records Act to get advance notice of homeless encampment sweeps for three years now. After a few months of arguing with LA Sanitation, in 2016 I actually managed to get a schedule one day in advance. I went out and filmed the whole thing, but then the City went back into full metal obstructionism and refused to hand over another advance schedule.

So I’ve been pushing them on it since then without making much progress. I did, however, get them to agree in principal that some of the records containing advance info about scheduled sweeps was not exempt from production. However, and frustratingly, this did not lead to my actually gaining access to schedules in advance. But in June of this year a lawyer, Michael Risher, agreed to help me out, and he evidently acted as a catalyst.

He wrote them a demand letter and they dragged their feet and dragged their feet but eventually did make various concessions, although still did not produce. One thing led to another, and we came to the conclusion that I would need to go to the Public Works Building in person and demand to see the schedule. I gave Sanitation notice that I would show up this morning at 7 am to look at today’s confirmation sheet.1 I showed up as promised, and after about 15 minutes of confusion with the guard, she let me go upstairs.
Continue reading How I Finally — For Only The Second Freaking Time Ever — Got Advance Notice Of Some Homeless Encampment Sweeps From LA Sanitation Via The Public Records Act After Three Long Years Of Fighting With Them About It — And How They Told Me That I Couldn’t Look At The Next Day’s Schedule But Only Today’s — So I Showed Up At The Public Works Building This Morning At 7 AM And Eventually Did Get To See The Schedule — Which Is A Huge Breakthrough! — But It Also Became Clear That They Have Not Been Fully Honest In Their Claim That The Schedules Aren’t Produced In Advance — So The Next Phase Is To Get The Next Day’s Schedules Each Afternoon

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Public Records Newly Obtained From LAHSA Shed Some Light On Homeless Encampment Cleanup Process — And LAHSA’s Role In It — Including Training Powerpoint By LAHSA Administrator Matthew Tenchavez — Organizational Chart Of LAHSA Outreach Personnel — And More Than 8K Entries From The Encampment Tracking Database — Showing Very Specific Information About Each Encampment Worked In 2019

I recently received a small but crucial set of records from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority relating to that organization’s role in the process of homeless encampment sweeps. LAHSA outreach workers are required to contact encampment residents and offer them services before LA City Sanitation and the LAPD come in and throw away all their stuff.

These records shed some light on the practical aspects of that requirement. How they’re organized across Los Angeles County, who the outreach workers are, how LAHSA characterizes the controlling policies in its training materials, and so on. These documents provide essential but fairly technical information about local government’s response to the crisis of homelessness. There’s nothing lurid here, just a mass of crucial details. You can browse through them here on Archive.Org and here are links, descriptions, and some samples of this material:

★ Org chart for LAHSA encampment outreach workers — XLSXPDF — LAHSA is a joint powers authority rather than a department of the City of Los Angeles. It therefore operates across the entire county, which they have divided into Service Planning Areas, or SPAs. This chart gives names and funding sources for outreach workers and supervisors for each SPA. The XLSX file is the original and I also exported it as a PDF for utility.

★ 2019 encampment tracker entries — XLSX — This is a crucial document.1 It contains short descriptions of almost 9,000 encampment outreach instances, including date, location, names of LAHSA outreach workers, number of residents, and brief notes from the outreach staff. Here’s a sample of what’s in there, click to enlarge:

★ CSLA Training Powerpoint — PDF — This is a powerpoint presentation prepared by LAHSA administrator Matthew Tenchavez about the Clean Streets Los Angeles program, which is one of at least two City of LA encampment sweeping initiatives. This is essential information for understanding how LAHSA sees its role in the process, the rules they believe they are meant to follow, and so on. It also explains various software tools used in planning encampment sweeps, with some screenshots. If PDFs aren’t convenient, I have images of the 11 pages below.
Continue reading Public Records Newly Obtained From LAHSA Shed Some Light On Homeless Encampment Cleanup Process — And LAHSA’s Role In It — Including Training Powerpoint By LAHSA Administrator Matthew Tenchavez — Organizational Chart Of LAHSA Outreach Personnel — And More Than 8K Entries From The Encampment Tracking Database — Showing Very Specific Information About Each Encampment Worked In 2019

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Huge Release Of City Of Los Angeles Homeless Encampment Sweep Scheduling Emails Reveals Crucial Steps Of Planning Process — Including Scouting Reports — Time Estimates — Daily Schedules — Notice Posting — Obtained From LAHSA — This Is Essential And Fundamental Primary Source Material For Understanding The Encampment Sweep Scheduling Process — And Another Incremental Step Toward The Years-Long Struggle To Make Sweep Schedules Public

One of the most egregious ways in which the City of Los Angeles terrorizes and oppresses homeless human beings is with so-called encampment sweeps, in which City officials, guarded by police, swoop in and confiscate and dispose of people’s possessions, including in many cases life-essential materials such as medicine, official papers, tools, tents, bicycles, and so on.

This appalling practice has inspired a long chain of successful federal lawsuits against the City, the most recent one of which1 was filed on July 18, 2019.2 Human rights activists, for instance to name just a couple Streetwatch and Services Not Sweeps, have been trying for years to get advance notice of sweeps for many purposes, not least among which are monitoring and outreach to the victims.

Since 2016 I have also been trying to get the City to cough up advance notice via the California Public Records Act. I had one early success, thus proving that the concept at least could work, but since then the City has mostly ignored me. And even on one occasion worse than ignored me, they illegally denied me entry into the Public Works Building, thus preventing me from seeing advance schedules.3 I wrote about my progress a couple more times, once in October 2016 and again in November of that year. There haven’t been enough new developments since then for a post,4 until today, that is.

One of the key strategies in public records activism is making requests for the same materials from every possible agency that might hold records. This increases the odds of getting a complete set of responsive material in the face of obstruction.5 I have been working on getting access to sweep scheduling materials through LA Sanitation, who has ignored me since 2017, through LAPD, which is slightly better but still routinely takes up to a year to produce material, through various Council offices, the office of the Mayor, and so on.

But for some reason it never occurred to me before May 2019 to request records from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, which is also deeply implicated in the process of planning and carrying out sweeps. But request them then I did, and last week they released about 5% of a promised 16GB6 collection of emails between LAHSA operatives involved with sweeps and various complicit parties at the City of Los Angeles, and you can get your copies here on Archive.Org.
Continue reading Huge Release Of City Of Los Angeles Homeless Encampment Sweep Scheduling Emails Reveals Crucial Steps Of Planning Process — Including Scouting Reports — Time Estimates — Daily Schedules — Notice Posting — Obtained From LAHSA — This Is Essential And Fundamental Primary Source Material For Understanding The Encampment Sweep Scheduling Process — And Another Incremental Step Toward The Years-Long Struggle To Make Sweep Schedules Public

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