A fence that has surrounded Echo Park since city officials forcibly removed a homeless encampment last year has been knocked down as of Monday morning.
Most of the fencing was left haphazardly around the park, where a homeless camp was removed recently. A couple of sections of fence was found at the edge of the water.
"It's a public park, it should be open. What do you need a fence for?" Nate Offerdahl, who said he was happy to see the fences down when he got to the park Monday morning.
The park had reopened in May of 2021 after a cleanup operation that relocated hundreds of people who had been living there. The fence had been put up around the park, reportedly after an encampment of about 200 people were kicked out. Homeless advocates say the people living there were not relocated, but were kicked out or arrested.
According to social media, a sign was put up saying, "Community De-fence."
But some neighbors say the fences helped make the park more welcoming, by keeping homeless encampments from getting taking hold again.
"Parks at nighttime can cause a rise in crime, as was seen here in the experiment that was unfenced Echo Park," Lisa Derrick said.
Many people visiting Echo Park Monday said they didn't feel safe bringing children there.
"Some, not all, do some drugs out an about, or take off their clothes," Mia Sabala said.
It's not clear who took down the fence. But the park has been the focus of an increasingly heated struggle between city officials and residents who want to keep the park clean and safe, and homeless Angelenos and their advocates who say they have no other place to go. Echo Park was finally closed off for the clean-up operation after protests and confrontations with park rangers and city crews.
City staff have removed signs left behind at the park and have begun repairing the fencing. A statement from Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O'Farrell's office says they will work with the community to decide the future of the park.
"The needs and wants of the Echo Park community will drive any decisions at Echo Park Lake, not acts of vandalism. This is why I have directed the Department of Recreation and Parks to spearhead an independent, community-driven process to shape the future of the Echo Park complex, including park amenities, security measures, programming and more."
O'Farrell's office said residents who wish to be part of the process can contact the Department of Recreation and Parks at email@example.com.
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