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Morning Brief: Toilets For The Unhoused, A Voter Guide, And The Hollywood Reservoir

A green mobile pit stop is shown on a street in downtown Los Angeles.
A "fixed" mobile pit stop located in downtown Los Angeles.
(Ethan Ward
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Good morning, L.A. It’s August 20.

In 2018, L.A. officials launched the Mobile Pit Stop program, an effort to provide bathrooms for unhoused Angelenos. The program expanded over the next three years, and now, there are 19 units throughout the city.

But according to some members of the unhoused community, the pit stops are sometimes moved without warning. Without a nearby toilet, people are often forced to use buckets — or the streets — to relieve themselves.

“As a woman, it is very humiliating to have to take a dump in a bucket behind the place where you stay or behind your vehicle,” said Analli Brown, who has been without a permanent home for three years. “Everybody deserves to have that privacy. And I don’t understand, they never gave us a reason why they took that from us, they never gave us an explanation.”

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My colleague Ethan Ward reports that many unhoused people and activists believe the Mobile Pit Stops are imperative for an individual's basic dignity, as well as sanitation and health concerns for the entire community.

“People don't really realize how important toilets are until you don't have one,” said Lena Miller, the chief executive officer of Urban Alchemy, which has been working with the city on the Mobile Pit Stop program.

Unlike the temporary hygiene stations placed near homeless encampments during the pandemic, Mobile Pit Stops are monitored by attendants who keep them clean and ensure the safety of users.

Jay Flott, a pit stop attendant who works on Skid Row, said that he’s glad to be able to help those in need.

“I never knew what Skid Row was like firsthand,” he said. “Now that I’m out here, I see there’s a lot of people who need help. I feel like I'm providing a small service by doing this job.”

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

What Else You Need To Know Today

  • Want to cast your ballot in the gubernatorial recall election? Here’s our voter guide.
  • A criminal case was opened against two former Torrance police officers for allegedly spray-painting a swastika on an impounded car. And 13 current officiers are now under investigation for allegedly exchanging racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic messages.
  • Health officials report more than 25,000 people have died from COVID-19 in L.A. County since the pandemic began.
  • LAUSD is opening 31 new transitional kindergarten classrooms in schools with high numbers of students from low-income families.
  • L.A.’s Board of Public Works heard from angry neighbors at a virtual town hall to discuss the lingering effects of the sewage spill at the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant.
  • Tropical storm surges are leading to waves up to seven feet across Southern California beaches. It might mean great surfing conditions, but it also comes with a warning about rip tides and other dangers.
  • Pregnant women who contract COVID-19 are more likely to end up in intensive care and need respiratory intubation or ventilation.

Weekend Reads

There's a lot going on in the world right now, and it’s hard enough to keep up with our day-to-day lives, let alone to stay current on the news. But if you have some time this weekend, here’s what you may have missed:

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Monday was a big back-to-school day, as kids reunited with classmates they hadn’t seen in 17 months. (LAist)

L.A. officials have released a report outlining steps to end anti-Black racism on a local level. (L.A. Sentinel)

Our criminal justice correspondent Frank Stoltze tells what happened when he was attacked while covering an anti-vaccine rally. “I’m fine,” he writes, “but I’m mad as hell.” (LAist)

A rat infestation at a Montebello high school forced students back home. (Pasadena Star News)

SoCal could be in store for some big improvements thanks to the federal infrastructure package. Here’s a look at what might be coming. (LAist)

Promotoras are reaching out to Latino communities in L.A. to encourage vaccination. (San Fernando Valley Sun)

Parents who want their kids to stick to online learning are getting frustrated with LAUSD’s slow response. (LAist)

LAUSD’s coffee cake is the stuff of legend — here’s why. (LAist)

Before You Go ... This Week's Outdoor Pick: The Hollywood Reservoir

Hollywood Reservoir
The Hollywood Reservoir was built in 1924 to provide emergency drinking water to the city.
(Edenpictures, licensed under CC BY 2.0)

Take an easy 3.3-mile stroll or bike ride around the Lake Hollywood Reservoir, which was built in 1924 to provide emergency drinking water to the city. Doggies aren’t allowed, but the route offers great views of the Hollywood sign, especially from the Mulholland Dam, that might be lost on your four-legged friend anyway.

Or, you could: Take an adults-only sunset swim. Listen to Sheila E. headline a jazz festival. Attend an online escape room convention. Explore the art of Judson Studios. Find Refuge with Devendra Banhart. And more.

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