Town to clean up Koreatown collector’s house

Cardboard boxes, aluminum cans and other trash are stacked 8 feet high in the front yard of the Koreatown house, obscuring the front windows and threatening to spill over onto the sidewalk.

Neighbors say they have been complaining to city officials for years.

On Tuesday, the owner, a 90-year-old woman, agreed to allow city workers to clean up the yard, starting Thursday, a spokesperson for the city attorney said.

The woman’s son, who lives with her and does not want to give her name, said he wanted to recycle cans and other items piled up in the yard.

He looks after his mother and occasionally repairs bikes at a store in Cypress Park.

“A lot of people say, ‘You’ll probably only get $ 20 for some of this stuff,’” he said, a black bandana covering his face. “But $ 20 is $ 20.”

Now, with the city ready to clean up the property, he’s sure he won’t be making any money from recycling.

Leticia Ruiz has lived next to the house on Harvard Boulevard since 1981.

As she sat on her porch, boxes, cabinet doors, glass frames, cardboard tubes, and other trash dominated her driveway.

The problem has worsened recently, she said. She is embarrassed to have guests. She saw rodents and cockroaches roaming the garbage pile and wants the city to provide pest control after the cleanup.

“I wrote to the mayor and the city planning department, to the code enforcement, to so many different departments, and I heard nothing,” Ruiz said.

Neighbors say they have worked together for years to remedy the situation, and this is the first time the city has taken action.

In August, one of their messages finally got through.

The cleanup is expected to be completed by Monday, said Karly Katona, chief of staff to Los Angeles City Councilor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

The Ridley-Thomas office will find money for the cleanup, “given the owner’s inability to respond to public health and safety concerns.”

The city will coordinate with the county public health department’s environmental division on pest control, Katona added.

Ridley-Thomas was suspended by his colleagues last month after being charged with conspiracy, bribery and other charges. Katona acts as the office keeper.

In addition to officials from the city attorney’s office, paramedics and county mental health officials arrived on Tuesday to check on the elderly owner’s condition.

Dwayne Jones, who has lived in the neighborhood for more than six years, worries that once the garbage pile has been cleaned up, it will come back up.

“I hope if that is resolved this time around it will stay clean,” Jones said.


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