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500 RVs in Harbor Gateway causes headaches for officials

Driving down Compton Boulevard or even on 129th Street and Athens Way the stretch of RVs seems endless.

The Harbor Gateway Chamber of Commerce said they've tracked 500 RVs set up in a 6.5-mile area of unincorporated Los Angeles County. Getting them to move has been a logistical nightmare that started with the moratorium placed during the pandemic and only grew.

"Tow operators will not touch an RV and then you have hazardous waste," said David Matthews, President of Harbor Gateway North Chamber of Commerce. "What do you do with that? And then if they do take it, what do you do with the people who are in the RV?"

For years now, Matthews has been working to find some answers. He said he's been equally moved by the desire to protect local businesses and his sympathy for the unhoused. He said there were 170 RV fires in the area just last year.

"Almost every fire hydrant in this community is blocked," Matthews said. "And then it was the amount of children that were in these RVs. Just seeing how bad the conditions were, living conditions — no one should live like this."

Matthews said 36 of these RVs and those living in them, including some children, will get a new start on Tuesday. Authorities plan to move them into interim housing as part of a county project focused on clearing encampment and getting people like Erin Echavarria and Claudia Viveros off the streets.

"I'm grateful, excited and grateful," said Echavarria. "Maybe, it's a turning page."

Tomorrow, they'll leave the RV and street they've called home for three years.

"I'm excited, kinda nervous but excited," said Viveros.

Gardena Mayor Tasha Cerda said she's rooting for them and the area. Cerda said the RVs and issues accompanying them have spilled into her city.

"It's not fair for the taxpayers, for the business owners, to have to sit here and have it in front of their business," the mayor said.

She and Matthews hope the new start for couples like this is a news tart for the area.

"We promised clean, safe streets but in order to do that you have to work with what you have on your streets first," said Matthews.

To prevent the vacated RVs from show up somewhere else, authorities will take them away and break them down for salvaged parts — unless there is a registered owner who comes and takes it away.

David Matthews from Harbor Gateway Chamber featured towards the end.

Published by CBS LOS ANGELES on August 21, 2023

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