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Los Angeles grapples with homeless camps, illegally dumped trash and rat-infested City Hall

Priced out: L.A.'s hidden homeless

Watch the CBSN Originals documentary, "Priced Out: L.A.'s Hidden Homeless," in the video player above.


The city of Los Angeles is grappling with deteriorating sanitation problems, as an increase in homeless camps and illegally dumped trash have created conditions for rats and other vermin to infest L.A. City Hall. On Monday, the Los Angeles Times reported an assessment from a private pest control company placed the blame for the rodents in City Hall squarely on the city's homeless population living in the nearby Civic Center. 

According to the newspaper, CatsUSA Pest Control, a private company brought in last December to assess areas outside City Hall and nearby buildings, warned that homeless people create "harborage for rodents." The company said its assessment found "poor sanitary conditions," including leftover food, human waste, and hypodermic needles in the homeless encampments. 

The Los Angeles Times obtained the assessment last month through a public records request. Los Angeles' City Hall building has been plagued by a rodent problem for most of the year. The Los Angeles Times reports there were pest complaints — rats, mice or fleas — made in 20 different locations within City Hall for a five-month period through February. 

LAPD Typhoid Fever
Tents housing homeless line a street down the street from LAPD Central Community Police Station in downtown Los Angeles on Thursday, May 30, 2019. The union that represents the LAPD is demanding a cleanup of homeless encampments in the city after one detective who works downtown was diagnosed with typhoid fever and two others are showing similar symptoms. Richard Vogel / AP

According to the newspaper, Elena Stern, spokeswoman for the city's Bureau of Sanitation, said cleanups of homeless camps currently take place every weekend in the Civic Center and include the disposal of hazardous materials, the removal and storage of items owned by homeless people, and the power washing of sidewalks. 

The rodent and homeless problems affecting City Hall and the Civic Center are part of a larger problem of trash and sanitation in the streets of the city, which has been profiled by an LA Times photographer. Last month, multiple LAPD police officers contracted typhoid fever, and others contracted hepatitis A and staff infections, while working at a police station in an area filled with hundreds of homeless encampments. 

Last week, Dr. Drew Pinsky, the prominent celebrity doctor, said the population is at risk due to infections disease and compared the city to a third world country. 

"We have a complete breakdown of the basic needs of civilization in Los Angeles right now," he told Fox News. "Third world countries are insulted if they are accused of being like this. No city on Earth tolerates this. The entire population is at risk."

According to CBS Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti is not blaming the city's homeless, but rather the illegal dumping of trash. 

"Most of the things we saw in the news recently are from illegal dumping, not from homeless folks, so it's also important not to blame folks that are living on the streets for everything that we see," said Garcetti.

CBS Los Angeles reports Gonzala Barriga, a compliance officer who oversees the enforcement of illegal dumping in the city, confirmed his own reports of the illegal dumping of trash on the streets. 

"There are some streets where it is extremely bad. From one day to the next…we may have cleaned at 9 a.m. and the very next morning we could see a pile of tires, a pile of construction debris," said Barriga.