By Victor Valladares
What started as angry San Pedro Residents protesting about the building of the Emergency Homeless Shelter, which was approved and ordered to be built by Mayor and Councilman Joe Buscaino, which in this case did not consult with the San Pedro Community about the building of the project, which triggered many Residents to protest. Residents of San Pedro say that the shelter is to close to schools and businesses including the Harbor Cruise Terminal which many say they will be affected by the shelter. Residents also fear that shelter will cause more homeless individuals to come from other cities causing the number of homeless to rise in San Pedro.
Measure H was passed in 2018 by state voter which says, the County of LA wants to raise the County sales tax by one quarter of a cent and will be added to existing sale taxes. The Los Angeles cities sales tax will go up to nine percent and the sales tax in the city of Long Beach will go up to ten percent brining three hundred fifty million dollars per year that will used to pay services not housing for homeless individuals for example mental health care, medical care, drug and alcohol rehab and more. The sales tax worked hand in hand with a bond that pays for construction of affordable housing. This proposal sales tax would pay for services making housing a plus service. We called Joes office where we were unable to speak to him but were able to speak with Branimir Kvartuc, Director of communications for Joe Buscaino were he addressed saying, “It was Mayors initiative to do this due to the measure H that was passed this last year putting twenty five proposals for the entire City of LA. The goal for this project is to take these people off the streets, Residents are complaining about them using the restrooms and sleeping sidewalks, leaving the police to do something but they cant. So we are doing the solution to solve all this. People are sleeping on these sidewalks, they are urinating and shitting on these sidewalks and also suffocating and that needs to stop and that all works one step at a time. There are five hundred homeless individuals living in San Pedro at the moment,a hundred and fifty of them sleep on sidewalks, a hundred and fifty sleep in their cars and the rest sleep in some type of shelter. The city was given four billion dollars to start this project to provide housing to homeless across the cities of LA. By creating this twenty cities across LA we will be taking one hundred thousand homeless individuals off the street by 2019, we started with Wilmington who just opened there shelter today and next it’s San Pedro, Hollywood, Venice, Koreatown, Watts and more. It’s not a traditional shelter where they make a long line by 7 p.m. trying to get a space to sleep then having to leave at 6 a.m. no,its a emergency Shelter that just doesn’t provide shelter and utilities, it offers programs to help those individuals that need help to get them back up on their feet and help their own place to live. Seventy five to one hundred individuals are able to live in the shelter with also having showers and bathrooms to use for personal needs. The Shelter will have five staff clean ups everyday, with 24/7 LAPD Police patrols everyday keeping it clean,safe and organized and that’s what Residents are not understanding, they think it’s your average shelter but its not, its a emergency living Shelter. People are spending half of their salary on high rent or mortgages that need to be paid, people wanna live normal lives, go out and do hobbies but cant why, because they spend all their money to pay these super high rent or mortgages. We are also expanding the San Pedro Projects making the from four hundred seventy eight homes to one thousand six hundred and that project is expected to launch very soon this year, we are also gonna push those shitty war bricks that are close by Korean Bell and build homes their , without those ugly bricks we are able to provide homes to Residents that can afford them. Joe is the biggest proponent in the City of LA, he is building homes to get people off the sidewalks, no other person in office has built more homes than Joe.”
We asked if Branimir if he is aware that Residents are protesting publicly about the building of the shelter, Branimir said, “That’s their right, i don’t know why they are protesting and they don’t know why they’re protesting, we do what the people voted on and after we do it they protest, their the ones causing a outbreak.” We also asked if Branimir was aware that residents want to recall the mayor out of office, branimir said, “and that’s their right, but let me tell you it’s not easy to do, so they can try all they want but it’s not easy.” Do you think the city will be affected by building this shelter, was another questioned asked to Branimir which he said, “ The city is already affected, there isn’t any affecting to a city that is already affected, why, because we have many homeless who live and suffocate on these sidewalks and also use the sidewalks as restrooms, all that needs a change and after it changes and stops the city won’t be affected anymore.” Final question that asked to Branimir was, is it true when Joe was asked about the protesting and getting his position in office recalled, he replied back saying “bring it on” and “If you don’t like it you can move somewhere else? Branimir says “yes, but let me tell you those aren’t even real reporters their fake! Their just a pack of uneducated barking dogs , who just insult people they have in interviews and Joe was getting insulted and bullied in all verbal ways by some barking dogs and naturally Joe got mad and had to defend himself so fuck them.”
Many business owners who own a business next to the shelter are angry that the fact it’s getting built right next to them, Carl Crawford business owner of Up Creative Pet Supplies says, “ I don’t like it, we already have enough trouble here and around the city with these individuals and don’t want more to come. The city has no plan for clean ups or policing and just planning to dump them here. I understand there’s a homeless issue we have but some don’t wanna get the help they need because these places have rules they have to follow and that’s what stops them. Homeless individuals come into my property to steal cans leaving a mess and also bringing more of them that half of the time cause trouble. I understand its a problem and no one wants them in their neighborhoods but there’s more places far from residents and business that can be a better spot to put them at.” West Marine store owner Sherry who did not wanna give her last name says, “I agree with the city building a shelter as long as its maintained and staffed right. It doesn’t matter where we put them because we will never be able to hide from it.”
Homeless individual Manuel Uribe age Sixty two says, “i didn’t know that they are gonna build a shelter but i think it’s good they are because the Street is a dangerous place to live on. Let me tell you the truth, the program will help but this will only be beneficial to the ones who want it and the ones who don’t will continue to live on the streets. I would like to see the shelter provide food, clothes and if the people could classes to learn and study.” Julio Ulas, age sixty, retired says, “if you can’t clean up yourself this wont benefit you but with the help of daily clean ups and policing it will help. I would like to see a basketball court or a gym to be built with also having a school to learn from and a job to work at to have money to eat and later buy a home to live in.” Los Angeles Harbor College student Julio Alvarez says “ I think this will help the homeless problem we face in LA especially to the homeless students Harbor has.” The project is undergoing construction where it will be built early 2019 with other Shelters also opening across the city and county of LA.