The Glamping Solution

Traditional Mongolian Yurt
Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait City
The Sibley Glamping Tent. Price: $1169. Note the wood platform.

With regard to homeless encampments, the City of Los Angeles pretends to be constrained by the Boise decision, and specifically its local variant, the Jones agreement,  from enforcing laws against sleeping on the street.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that as long as the homeless population exceeds the number of shelter beds available in a city, the ordinance cannot be enforced during sleeping hours.

But….what you are not told by the people and corporations feeding off Shantytown, Inc., Boise was limited in scope, and only applied to the night hours, specifically to sleeping.  It did not create a right to camp on the sidewalk and was very opaque about shelter.

In other words, if the City created enough shelter spaces, it could put an end to the encampments inside of a week.

What does Los Angeles have in abundance?  Space. Empty lots. Unused, undesirable slivers of ground, off the well-trod paths, under freeways, in the brownfields.   It also has ample funding, through Props H and HHH, for yurts, tents, geodesic domes, fifth-wheel trailers, and tiny houses on wheels.  The crucial elements being temporary and mobile.

We have soldiers and airmen billeted across the globe in these very spartan arrangements for months at a time. Years.  If it’s good enough for the military, it’s damn well good enough for crackheads. (hat tip, JayDee)

As long as there is running water on-site, access to sanitary facilities, both of which can be trucked in and out, it qualifies.  Small mobile solar panels can provide reading light and phone charging.

What isn’t required? Air conditioning. WiFi. Concrete footings. Sewer lines.

When we landed in Van Nuys our house had NO air-conditioning.
No attic ventilation.
No insulation.
No shade.
Single pane clear glass windows from the 1970s.
After we closed escrow, we had no money to do anything about it.
Not for the first summer.

We would take refuge at the mall, come home at 9 pm, open the door and step into a sauna. We actually camped in the yard during a prolonged heatwave.

Sort of like glamping, but in your own house.

An Invasive Species

Mr. UpintheValley was weeding the yard this week … his exertions caused him to free-associate…and he was reminded of the strident opposition anti-gentrifiers have to art washing.  In Van Nuys, weeds are weeds, but if you’re defending Boyle Heights, art is weeds. Art on the walls begets pop-up stores, which in turn beget poke bowls, which beget Lime scooters, leading, inevitably, to the dreaded/welcomed Bento box apartment block and people posting to IG while crossing the intersection on scooters on their way to have dreaded/welcomed poke, all but daring the locals to tap their brakes a moment too late.  Abstract this, sidewall beardo guy…

It’s an invasive species, proclaim the nativists, this malediction/bloom of white hipsters. Murals are a semaphore for an invading force which should be resisted at all costs, by direct action if necessary… all are on a continuum…and a good example of how one can be correct on the facts but still get the politics wrong. Urban neighborhoods are nimble in their mutability, everchanging,  and in Los Angeles more than anywhere else we circle back to the origin along a genogram that often reads: Smith->Jefferson->Lopez->Chen->Smith.

After weeding,  I made my way to the Sepulveda Basin, where I frolicked in sheaves of wild mustard, shoulder high…such joy among the wild bunnies and predatory birds…only to read later at home I had been celebrating a pernicious weed siphoning resources away from native plants, encroaching on the habitat of local fauna.   Officials have a list of such plants..they call it The Evil 25.  And there I was…dancing like the demented villagers in The Wicker Man, exhausting synonyms for yellow, welcoming the invaders, abetting evil. Also, I like both gourmet coffee and pretentious ramen, making me trebly bad.

Invasive species can be defined as alien to the local ecosystem and whose introduction causes economic or environmental harm to human health.  They compete with natives for limited resources. They alter the habitat they enter.  They are difficult to eradicate.  Encountering no natural predators or environmental restraints, they multiply rapidly and set up colonies.

We note the obvious in the privacy of our cars on the drive home but speak it aloud at our peril.   If this is okay, why can’t I park on the freeway and take a nap on my way home when I get tired of driving?  Why can’t I throw my trash in the Pacoima Wash? Why can’t I join the Free State of Jones when the whimsy strikes me?  Why don’t we call things by their rightful name? How did we come to surrender so much common sense in the course of a decade?  Why do we genuflect before obvious lies in the hope of dodging condemnation?

In short, shouldn’t we be viewing bad policy decisions as weeds?

Perhaps this fruit of local government should be added to the invasive species list.

Like usury, which makes a gain from money itself, not through the means of exchange it was intended for, but by replicating endlessly through interest, Los Angeles government is self-breeding.   Its offspring is more government.  Rather than being a conduit of public will, it manufactures consent for bad policy through patronage. It funds advocacy groups which petition the city “do something” about the issues from which those same groups stand to profit…in a feedback loop of gluttonous virtue.

2007 advocacy: Stop enforcing the law. Let them camp in the street.
2019 advocacy: Camping in the street is shameful.  This crisis demands a permanent flow of money.  For us.

For $500 million, we could purchase housing in less expensive regions of the country for every street person in LA.  Here’s the deed. Here’s your bus ticket.  Done.  Prop HHH raises $355 million per year. How many are we housing with that, and why are we doing it here?

When everyone in the picture is applauding themselves, without irony,  it’s time for Los Angeles to do what New York did in the ’90s: get back to first principles.