A ‘paper street’ is an administrative term for a named roadway laid out in the tract book but never built. It exists, at the hall of records, but only on paper. On the terra firma, Cabrito Road is an unmaintained ailanthus-ridden no man’s land abutting the storm channel.
Los Angeles County undertook a comprehensive survey of its homeless population this spring. It concluded two people were living on Cabrito between Van Nuys and Kester, a self-contained shire of broken down vehicles and open air domiciles cobbled together from pallets, discarded furniture, plastic tarps, old rugs, and scrap wood from the Home Depot parking lot. Two. A purple dot and a yellow dot on the great interactive map.
I’m not sure what methodology was employed, but you see a lot more than two people when you walk by. You hear nail pounding. The hum of generators. Barking dogs. Domestic arguments. At night, television screens glow from within the tapestry of detritus.
But on paper, it’s just Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton killing time waiting for the next opening at the flophouse. No white favela here.