Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley has called off the sweeps of Skid Row encampments while he sits down with the people working with the population of the area. So he should.
The clean-up campaign seems to have emerged from confusion within the mayor's office--a confusion apparent in his contradictory statements over whether in fact he had ordered the action. There is no question that some of the encampments harbor drug and other criminal activities, and should have long since been the targets of police action. But the indiscriminate assault on these pathetic settlements was irresponsible in the absence of serious action to enlarge the shelters available.
The first item on the agenda of the mayor's talks must be the future of Skid Row. The tragedy will only be worsened unless the mayor firmly recommits himself to the longstanding policy of the Community Redevelopment Agency to maintain Skid Row as a place where the poor can live in dignity and safety. There is no sure solution to the problems of Skid Row, but no other city has offered a plan with the promise of the CRA program.
There are several forces at work seeking to drive out the homeless and the impoverished so that the area can become an extension of Little Tokyo, which lies to the north, and the businesses that lie to the east. Councilman Gilbert Lindsay, the downtown representative on the City Council, is a spokesman for those groups, a champion of development. "Put the homeless people over closer to the river," he has said. He is wrong.