Los Angeles News

Sunland-Tujunga residents fight trash vandals

Monday, May 31, 2010

For years, the Big Tujunga Wash has provided a picturesque backdrop for local residents who enjoy the rare natural river bed that's perfect for hiking, jogging or collecting butterflies.

Also, the new Angeles National Golf Club is right in the middle of the wash. But, residents say there's trouble brewing in Big Tujunga.

Homeless camps are big concerns for residents, who say they sympathize with the homeless but say they drag in too much trash.

"It's bad. I'm talking broken glass. We have a lot of animals out here with people walking their pets. You have to watch out for that. There's human waste, and there's one particular homeless person who has severe mental issues, and she brings in just bags and bags of trash and spreads them out on the ground," said Sunland-Tujunga resident Joe Barrett.

Three times in recent years, volunteers have come out to clean up the trash. Tomi Lyn Bowling of the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council says the LAPD has chipped in with city trucks to haul it away. Large boulders have also been placed at entry points to keep dumpers out, but she says the homeless keep coming back and their camps keep filling with trash.

"It's enough that every time we do a cleanup, we have about a ton of trash," said Bowling.

Some of the homeless who camp here are well known to neighbors. For example, they say Margret has lived in the wash for two decades. They've tried to help her and convince her not to carry so much litter into the wash, but she keeps doing it.

"These are people who choose to live a lifestyle that is off the grid. They're not really homeless, so I call them transients," said Bowling.

Bowling hopes things will get better when 280 acres owned by the golf club are transferred to the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority. That deal is part of an agreement that allowed the owners to build Angeles National, and it's expected to be completed within a week.

When it's done, rangers will patrol the wash. Angeles National's CEO says in the meantime, his club has tried to be a good neighbor.

"We do clean up what the homeless will leave, and of course they come back," said Angeles National Golf Club CEO Andy Nakano.

Nakano says the golf course has also been vandalized with heaps of trash and broken bottles left on the greens. They've also been chewed up by off-road motorcyclists. His company is obligated to pay for maintenance when the conservation district takes over, but he says the problem is much bigger than most people think.

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vandalism, los angeles news, gene gleeson
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