Paper Street

The county census says two people live here
The county says two people live here

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.

3 thoughts on “Paper Street”

  1. …and in the shadow of a monolithic american flag, flying proudly over living spaces, next to home depot, and a stones throw from in-n-out burger, seven eleven, babys-r-us, hometown buffet, and various other outposts of capitalism.

    i walked through here today after reading this post and was shocked such a place existed here. like a little piece of skid row out in the valley. except these folks have been pushed away, out of sight, literally on the margins of society.

    i volunteer with a group called monday night mission. it can be found on facebook. would anyone be interested in starting something like that up for our neighborhoods here in the valley?

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