Gilbert T. Sewall

Los Angeles is in freefall

Can the election of a new mayor save the city from squalor?

(Photo: Getty)

On August 9, a crazy homeless woman riled by community activists stormed a Los Angeles city council meeting, shouting obscenities and threats at members, closing the assembly down. A proposed ban on homeless encampments within 500 feet of schools had been on the table. For the city’s extremists, ‘criminalising homelessness’ is cause for mayhem.

Last week, a thuggish mob shut an entire downtown Los Angeles street after midnight, ransacking a 7-Eleven and injuring the sole cashier. Residents citywide fear a future of unprosecuted criminal raids, ‘street takeovers’, and organised looting.

Central Los Angeles is awash in homicides, break-ins, carjacks, shoplifting, and vandalism. The once snazzy Sunset Strip and Melrose areas are congested, rundown and dangerous at night. Brazen lawlessness often meets a blind official eye.

Serious crime is spiking, while armies of homeless push fetid shopping carts toward oblivion. Beaten-up recreational vehicles with out-of-state licence plates squat on residential streets. Drifters beg at freeway off-ramps. Tent encampments are everywhere. Vagrancy and public nuisance laws are essentially void, thanks to federal court rulings.

Facing this gigantic mess, Representative Karen Bass and real estate developer Rick Caruso are vying to be mayor on a November 8 ballot.

The county district attorney George Gascón — who has overcome two recall efforts — is not on the ballot, but his policies overshadow the election. His upending of the city’s criminal justice system and its legal apparatus are deepening its crisis.

Central Los Angeles is awash in homicides, break-ins, carjacks, shoplifting, and vandalism

Los Angeles and its sun-drenched clichés still glisten for the star-struck and credulous. To trendy outlanders with ambitions in the dream factory, the Malibu Soho Club is a place of pilgrimage, with trippy, blue-sky pelicans. Electric-biking in day-glo lycra on Pacific Coast Highway and posting it on Instagram beats anything else.

But the mirage called Hollywood is not LA’s reality at all.

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