Photos by Brad Miller

At approximately 6:20 a.m. on Monday morning an engine from Station 61 responded to a trash fire at a homeless encampment on 900 E Rose Ave., according to LAFD.

The fire was extinguished and no people or permanent structures were harmed, although multiple trees were burned. The L.A. Fire Department did not record a cause of the fire and will not be conducting an arson investigation.

For several months around 100 residents have been voicing concerns about the encampment on Rose Ave. that stretches almost the length of the Penmar Golf Course, according to Carol Reynes who is a member of neighborhood organization The Rose Penmar Group.

“We got really concerned a few months ago about the fire danger with summer coming and Santa Anas, and the fact that there were five to seven fires happening every week that the LAFD was called out for,” said Reynes.

Many of these fire calls were related to open barbecues, but on April 19 a tent caught on fire on 3rd Ave and Rose Ave. Members of the Rose Penmar Group arranged a meeting with LAFD Deputy Chief Armando Hogan on June 30 and requested a fire risk assessment.

“He pretty much said I don’t know what you’re talking about; It’s not something that we do,” said Reynes. “We brought up the fact that his crews were coming out five to seven times a week and his response was that’s what they are there for and the only costs are to the taxpayers.”

Community members living by the encampment arranged a meeting with members of the LAPD last week to seek help. According to Aneez Lakha, who hosted the meeting in his yard, residents were told the police can only interfere with the encampment if they witness a crime or are sent photos or videos of an ongoing crime.

“People on Rose leave their house through the alley because they don’t want people to know they left their house because they are scared they will get broken into,” said Lakha. “There have been plenty of break ins. Two people on Indiana have sold their houses because they got broken into during the day time and on Rose it is even worse.”

Currently police officers cannot seize unhoused residents’ property due to the suspension of Los Angeles Municipal Code Section 56.11, which occurred in response to the pandemic in April. This ruling, in combination with removals of homeless encampments from the beach, has led to a significant increase in tents along Rose Ave.

“The day that the COVID shutdown happened they closed the beach and we literally got 60 tents within days piled onto Rose. From the very beginning there were fires here and there and people were having open BBQs,” said Reynes.

According to Reynes, the Penmar encampment grew in size following a recent homeless sweep along Venice Beach on August 21.