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Morning Brief: Echo Park Lake, Free College, And Car Culture

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A dog walks around the warning track as they take part in the Dodgers' annual "Pups in the Park" day on August 23, 2014
(Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Getty Images North America)
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Good morning, L.A. It’s May 20.

Two months ago, L.A. officials deployed law enforcement to remove a community of unhoused individuals from their encampment on the Echo Park Lake property.

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At the time, a spokesperson for City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell — whose district includes the park — said that the removal was planned so that workers could do about $500,000 of repairs to the park. The decision was hotly contested by activists who wanted the unhoused community to be able to stay put, and when police finally showed up, protesters and officers faced off.
Now, O’Farrell says a reopening date for the park has been set: May 26.

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A new estimate released by O’Farrell’s office puts the repair and renovation costs at $1.1 million, including upgrading restrooms and drinking fountains, restoring parts of the park’s playground, cleaning and painting benches and light poles, and installing security cameras.

At the time of the sweep, residents of the encampment said the area had become a safe space for them, as well as a supportive community.

"The biggest pandemic in years actually turned out to be a blessing for us," they wrote in a public statement. "Without the constant LAPD and city harassment uprooting our lives we've been able ... to come together as a community."

O’Farrell, however, disputes that notion.

“The situation at the Lake was not ‘commune-like,’ and it was naive and inaccurate to describe it as such,” he said in a statement emailed to LAist. “It was unsafe, unhealthy, inhumane and deadly — with multiple fatalities, widespread drug usage and criminal activity, including reports of sexual assaults.”

Many residents of the encampment moved into temporary housing after the sweep, but it’s not clear where they will go next, or what measures will be taken to prevent them from returning to Echo Park Lake — other than security cameras that have been installed.

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A., and stay safe out there.

What Else You Need To Know Today

  • David Ordaz, Jr. was fatally shot by L.A. Sheriff's deputies while he was in the midst of a mental health crisis, highlighting the debate over the best way to respond to such situations.
  • Some schools, including in San Bernardino, have decided to forego state money and will not reopen for in-person classes for the rest of this school year.
  • What can California’s College Promise program teach the rest of the country about the benefits and shortcomings of such programs, and who ultimately benefits the most?

Before You Go ... Car Culture And LA's Crazy, Cool Mid-Century Architecture

A vintage gar gets filled with gasoline at a gas pump.
May 21, 1928: A customer get service at a Muller Bros. Service Station in Southern California.
(Security Pacific National Bank Collection
Los Angeles Public Library Collection)
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Throughout the 20th Century, SoCal car culture merged with cutting-edge architecture to produce some truly fantastic structures.

Now, some of the most iconic structures are being restored and repurposed, including the 1937 Streamline Moderne Firestone Tire and Service Center on La Brea, and more.

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