Locals Cry Foul as California Claims Homeless Encampment Cleanups Not Linked to Super Bowl LVI
03:26 GMT 31.01.2022 (Updated: 13:28 GMT 06.08.2022)
Cleanup crews have been seen removing homeless encampments and related debris from Inglewood, California, and surrounding areas ahead of the upcoming Super Bowl LVI, slated for Sunday, February 13.
With just two weeks until the Super Bowl, Los Angeles-area residents are pushing back against the state's claim that a recent series of homeless camp cleanups are routine, and not due to the upcoming game expected to bring tens of thousands of tourists to the city.
Speaking to "Fox and Friends" last week, Venice neighborhood council member Soledad Ursua told co-host Steve Doocy that the government is using band-aid solutions to mask the city's long-term issues with homelessness.
"We see time and time again that our politicians offer Band-Aid solutions and the encampments just move," Ursua proclaimed. "There’s no fix to really get the people on the right track and get them the help that they need."
Photos published by TMZ and other news outlets showed that areas near the 405 freeway—just miles away from the SoFi Stadium—were being cleaned up by private contractors, including one company called Planet Green.
California Highway Patrol personnel also appeared on the scene.
Can’t have the Super Bowl fans see this. Work crews are busy clearing away homeless encampments near SoFi Stadium in Inglewood/Los Angeles in preparation for the Super Bowl on February 13. There’s just so much about this that’s f**ked up. (Photos: Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times) pic.twitter.com/qYjaaK92ai— Mike Sington (@MikeSington) January 26, 2022
It was estimated at the beginning of the pandemic that around 48,000 people were living on the streets in California. Residents believe that local elected officials have improperly responded to the worsening crisis.
“They are just trying to survive,” Sofi Villalpando, who works with displaced residents, told The Guardian. “It feels like [California authorities] are removing people so they won’t be seen."
© REUTERS / Kirby LeeJan 30, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; A general overall view of SoFi Stadium during the NFC Championship game between the Los Angeles Rams and the San Francisco 49ers
Jan 30, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; A general overall view of SoFi Stadium during the NFC Championship game between the Los Angeles Rams and the San Francisco 49ers
© REUTERS / Kirby Lee
Others claim that this approach is nothing new.
"We see this time and time again – with sports capitalism, celebrations or other big events like the Super Bowl or Olympics, the city tries to make the city look better for investors coming from out of town," said Annie Powers, an organizer for NOlympics LA, a coalition protesting the 2028 Olympics in LA.
The group fears the future event will have a similar impact on the homeless community in the area.
"So they’re very encouraged to try to disappear the poor from the streets," Powers added.
The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has maintained that the homeless encampment clearings occurred due to what they have characterized as a fire safety issue.
"Caltrans’ responsibility is to ensure the safety of the traveling public and to protect and maintain California’s highway infrastructure," reads a Caltrans statement. "The department is coordinating with local partners to provide outreach and support including Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA).