On March 16th, in response to the COVID pandemic, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and his council relaxed parking enforcement codes “to help Angelenos comply with public-health recommendations to prevent the spread of the novel Coronavirus.” This included lifting prohibitions against both overnight parking on residential streets for vehicles over six feet high (such as Winnebagos), and the parking of any vehicle in any one place for over 72 hours.
But about a week and a half into August, a VW Vanagon Westfalia (circa 1987, tricked out with solar panels on top) appeared in front of my house and stayed there. A white woman, about 40, with long magenta-dyed hair, was living in the van with a big leather-muzzled Rottweiler. The dog was prone to barking jags, and the woman didn’t just close the van’s sliding door when she got in and out; she often slammed it so hard that it shook my little wooden house.
I leaned over the fence and did my best to sound friendly. “Hi there! Hey… just want to tell you, we’re really close to the street here, and we hear everything. The barking and the van door slamming goes right through closed doors and windows.” She said she was “gonna leave tomorrow.”
“Thanks,” I said. And then my impatience triumphed over good sense, and I added, “But, it’s so loud, and I get migraines. As long as you’re going… could you maybe leave today?”
“I will stay as long as I want,” she yelled. “And by the way, I am not homeless. I am camping!”
our local Community Policing officer, Officer Adrian Acosta, who confirmed that they weren’t allowed to tow the van. He came out to talk to the woman and offered her space at Safe Parking L.A.—which she refused. She told Acosta she’d be moving on “soon,” and agreed to stop the repeated door slamming.
That lasted about an hour. Then, in quick succession: Slam! Slam! Slam! Slam! I opened my door and called from my porch, “Stop slamming the door!” “Oh, you gonna call the cops on me?” she answered. “I’ll call the cops on you!”
From then on, there was door slamming all day and sometimes at night—a deliberate ritual to show me she was in control. She could disturb my work, my peace of mind, and my sleep whenever she felt like it.
I was frustrated and upset, but I wasn’t afraid—until August 14th. A tall, rough-looking white guy roared up on a shiny Harley, parked it in front of the van, and got in. Soon afterward, another dude got in, too.
The noise and abuse intensified, with the van’s occupants making it clear it was punishment for me calling the police about the noise. Throughout the day, the guy would turn on his motorcycle, get back in the van, and just leave the thing idling on the street for 10 minutes at a time. The Harley’s unmuffled open exhaust woke the neighbor’s new baby and disturbed everybody on my block, many of whom are working remotely from home.
I climbed on the base of my fence to ask the guy, seated in the van, to please be respectful—turn off the motorcycle when he wasn’t riding it. He said nothing, but got out and hand-revved the bike to amp up the noise and pump out exhaust fumes. I put a towel under my door to block the fumes, which helped not at all. I came out again to ask him to please stop. His only response: “Show me your tits.”
The cops came out repeatedly, answering not just my calls but those of my neighbors. Time after time, the police apologized for the fact that they couldn’t do anything to alleviate the abuse, explaining that they’d been neutered by the mayor, with the support of our local city councilman, Mike Bonin.
One morning, about a week after his arrival, I sat down at my computer and discovered it was feces o’clock (approximately 6am Pacific Time). The stench of human waste was wafting in from the sidewalk, which apparently was doubling as a toilet. I had become afraid to go out my locked gate, even to get the mail from the box just on the other side, so I got up on my kitchen step stool and leaned over the fence to hose off the sidewalk.
We citizens can no longer rely on the police to show up. And then the thought hit me: I need to get a gun. You’ve got to love the irony. It’s the Democrats who push for gun control, yet it’s the Democrats in power in my city who are leaving me with no choice but to arm myself.
The mayor and council members have security details protecting them and their homes. But absent an empowered police force, the rest of us have only hoses, fists, and—in some cases—guns.