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Community News: Mid-City

Group Cleans Up Area a Foot at a Time

September 05, 1993|JAKE DOHERTY

A Westlake community group won a small victory recently in its struggle to improve the neighborhood when it joined forces with a realty firm to clean up a vacant lot at Burlington Avenue and Shatto Street.

"We have to go a block or even a foot at a time, but if everyone who lives or works here would just take a little time each day, we can get things done," said Nola-Marie Mott, who works across the street from the lot at the Exposition Park Parole Unit and is a member of the 5th and Bonnie Brae MASH (More Advocates for Safe Homes).

After a round of phone calls, Mott and her colleagues tracked down the firm that manages the lot at 624 Burlington Ave. for its Japanese owners. PBA International quickly complied with her request to clean up the lot once she described the trash, garbage and squatters' encampments that filled it, Mott said.

With support from the community and city officials, the lot could be turned into a temporary community garden until the owner is ready to develop it, said Ken Bales of PBA International.

The lot, and the area around it, has also attracted the attention of police and several city agencies, thanks to MASH members.

Sgt. Mark Williams of the Los Angeles Police Department's CRASH (Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums) unit said 26 people have been arrested for narcotics-related violations in the area in the last three months.

Senior Lead Officer Brian Gilman of the Rampart Division said the lot had been cleaned up in June, but the chain-link fence was cut and about 50 people, many drawn to the area by the easy access to drugs, moved in.

A new fence has been installed and many of the squatters at the lot have moved on to public property, Mott said.

Addressing a recent MASH meeting, Gilman offered encouragement: "These problems did not start overnight and we won't solve them overnight. The only way to solve them is if you work with us and we all work together."

Next on the group's list: persuading the vendors along 6th Street to stop hanging their wares on the fence, which is sagging under the weight.

Information on MASH activities: (213) 413-7702.

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