Los Angeles City Hall is “infested with rats” according to an uncovered report that connects the plague of rodents to the enormous homeless population in the liberal city.
The homeless camps outside LA City Hall create “harborage for rodents,” the report states, and these rats then make their way into City Hall, residing with the politicians and city workers.
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When faced with complaints earlier this year from city workers about rats infesting Los Angeles City Hall, most city officials did not address the question about whether the rats were connected to the homeless camps right outside.
LA Times reports: But a newly uncovered report from a pest control company hired by the city has raised fresh questions about whether officials wrongly downplayed that possibility during discussions at City Council meetings.
CatsUSA Pest Control, brought in to assess areas outside City Hall and nearby buildings, warned that homeless people create “harborage for rodents,” according to the report issued Dec. 28 and obtained last month through a public records request by a frequent critic of City Hall.
The company said it found “poor sanitary conditions” – including leftover food, human waste and hypodermic needles – and recommended that the city clear away the homeless population living in the Civic Center.
The findings were a topic of internal discussion for staffers at the Department of General Services, the agency that maintains city buildings. The day the one-page report was issued, a maintenance official sent an email to the department’s general manager, Tony Royster, describing the filth that had accumulated in the pits that surround City Hall, which are covered by metal grates.
“The homeless are using the grated areas above the pits as their bathroom and relieving themselves,” wrote David Costa, building construction and maintenance superintendent. “This is also attracting the rats. Custodial will need to do some hazmat cleaning of the grates and the pits. There are even hypodermic needles being tossed in the pits along with human waste and other garbage.”
Councilman Joe Buscaino, who has criticized the city over its handling of sidewalk cleanups of homeless people, was the only council member to argue during council meetings that the camps attract vermin.
He said he was unaware of CatsUSA’s findings until he was contacted by the Los Angeles Times last month and said he always viewed the encampments, and not Parker Center, as the reason for the surge in rats.
“At the onset of this mess, I saw a correlation between the rat infestation and these encampments surrounding the Civic Center,” Buscaino said. “I’ve worked skid row as a police officer. I’ve done cleanups as a council member.”
On Sunday, Council President Herb Wesson declined to comment on the CatsUSA report, saying he hadn’t seen it.
However, at a council meeting on the rat issue four months ago, he cautioned the public against blaming homeless individuals for the problem.
“I really want us to get to the facts,” Wesson said. “I do not want to have people who are unfortunately living on the streets blamed for something that they might not have anything to do with, but they’re just an easy target.”
The documents provide a window into the alarm from city employees over rat sightings, rodent droppings and other pest-related issues. On Dec. 28, one exasperated department head emailed General Services noting that her staff had removed food and plants but had discovered that rodents also were eating paper.
“In my 31 years, I have never seen anything like this,” wrote City Clerk Holly Wolcott. “I again have to ask if efforts can be increased.”
The documents also show there were pest complaints – rats, mice or fleas – made at about 20 different locations within City Hall for a five-month period through February.
Preven said the report he obtained and the conditions it describes show a clear need for public restrooms to be installed outside City Hall.
“It’s the only humane, hygienic thing to do,” he said.
Last month, state officials fined General Services and the LAPD after uncovering a rodent infestation and other unsanitary conditions at the LAPD’s Central Division station in skid row. General Services has filed an appeal.
The LAPD said one of its employees at the station has contracted the strain of bacteria that causes typhoid fever, although it’s unclear how the worker became ill.