It wasn’t all that long ago that the nation watched transfixed in horror as fires tore apart California, destroying homes and claiming lives. In all the debates about global warming and forestry management, one singular cause of the fire was left unaddressed.
Global warming wasn’t starting the fires. People were.
Last December, the 422-acre Skirball Fire that forced the evacuation of 700 homes and took 10 days to put out was started by illegal cooking in a homeless encampment. The Leo Baeck Temple in Bel-Air, which celebrates “social justice”, even sued Los Angeles (both city and county) over fire damage for ignoring multiple complaints about the homeless encampment and the fire hazard that it posed.
This November, the Los Angeles Zoo had to evacuate its animals over a fire in yet another homeless encampment. That fire not only endangered lives, but diverted resources from fighting the much more serious fires in Ventura County.
But instead of shutting down the encampments, Mayor Garcetti, who has done more to legalize and subsidize homelessness in Los Angeles than any of his predecessors, sent “outreach workers” from the expanding behemoth of the LA Homeless Services Agency to ask them to please move.
That worked about as well as expected.
Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer blasted Garcetti for condoning campfires and refusing to arrest “homeless firebugs” and “vagrants” because there weren’t enough “No Trespassing” signs. “It’s unclear to me how many signs Mayor Eric Garcetti thinks he would need to cover the Santa Monica Mountains behind Bel Air and the Getty Museum,” he angrily wrote.
Brush fires are just one of the wages of the legalization and subsidization of the homeless. And while these fires are spectacular, they are not the most dangerous consequence.
Los Angeles had doubled its homeless budget to $450 million. Despite that its homeless population had only dropped to 39,826, a reduction of only 256 people. The only surprise in those statistics is that the population dropped at all. Homeless spending has the notorious effect of increasing homeless populations rather than diminishing them as vagrants swarm in and agencies inflate their numbers.
But while doubling its homeless budget didn’t significantly diminish the homeless population in Los Angeles, it did have another spectacular statistical effect on the wellbeing of city residents.
LAPD statistics showed that homeless crime actually increased by nearly 50%, jumping from 5,976 crime reports of homeless perpetrators in most of 2017 to 8,906 crime reports in most of 2018.
Los Angeles had doubled its homeless budget and doubled the amount of homeless crime.
Homeless advocates like to claim that the police wrongly arrest the homeless for quality of life offenses that other people get a pass on. If ordinary people aren’t arrested for public urination or campfires, why should the homeless?
That argument fueled the legalization of homelessness which allowed vagrants to urinate and defecate in public, resulting in businesses fleeing the affected areas, and Hepatitis outbreaks among homeless populations in Los Angeles and other major California cities, and it also allowed them to start fires.
Several epidemics and fires later, not to mention an outbreak of shoplifting and tents being set up in residential areas and outside small businesses, the full scale of homeless legalization looks even worse.
It’s not just the “quality of life” offenses or broken windows policing whose accomplishments helped bring back American cities in the 90s, but which the pro-Crime progressives have been reversing.