Arch. Myriam B. Mahiques Curriculum Vitae

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Homeless in the Central Park of Huntington Beach (!)

This picture was downloaded to my National Geographic account, here

The Library and Central Park of Huntington Beach, Southern California, is one of my favorite places.
I've been there many times, buying books and taking pictures everywhere, in different seasons.
Sometimes we go for a walk with my husband, like anybody else in Huntington Beach, because this is not a park for tourists, but for the neighbors, and we are proud of its beauty and peace.
Today, I went alone, and decided to venture away from the walkways to take different pictures from the ducks and landscape. I wanted to focus in textures and fallen Eucalyptus. 

The first things that caught my attention were pretty worn out clothes hanging from the trees. That was unusual because there are no seats around, and people were away from this spot.
Then, I walked to the new circle of pine trees and went to the woods in the area surrounding the lagoon. A jade green pond was bright and beautiful with moss and I got closer to take pictures of it. I was surprised to see the blue and the red of someone's belongings, plus a sign and a big picture frame. That was a nice composition for my shot, the first one I have here.
But when I looked up, I saw in astonishment that more colorful things were everywhere, clothes, toilette paper, bottles, plastics, etc. as you can notice in the following pic, though I wouldn't dare to go farther, just in case. Music was being played from a radio, coming from this spot. A hidden place for homeless.

I've felt somehow nervous, evaluating my situation. A lady alone, inside the woods, if something happened, who could hear me? I went back to the library and on my way I managed to take more pictures, there are narrow paths that lead to areas enclosed by nature, and every time I could see covers, toilette papers, bags, remains of human habitat. In another wood, children were playing seek and hide with plastic guns, pure fun, unaware of the homeless protected by the wet and dense trees. And of course, the worn out clothes were still hanging on the Eucalyptus after my long walk.

Here I am sharing my pictures, even graffiti I've found on the trees. I've spoken to the person in charge of the Library security and he said, I know, and this is not one person, there are four over there, another two....etc. Now I was upset. So, did you know it already?
The security guard said as they are not inside the Library area, the problem belongs to the police department, and that when they are called, they make a few tickets, get rid of the homeless and then, they immediately come back to their settlements. And there is still more, people living in their RVs at the parking lots under the trees. Though there were complaints, they would stay the whole day, it doesn't matter if the park is closed at night.
And I insisted, don't you think it's dangerous? (He totally agreed with me). Who could hear if something happens in the density of the trees? I am not against the homeless, but when they are on the streets, you can watch their behavior, they are exposed.
In Huntington Beach Central Park there is no way they could be exposed, not them, not anybody who would venture to come across with them. What happens after the park is closed? Who knows. Maybe they are just poor people, it doesn't mean they are dangerous. But maybe not.

I have to confess it took me by surprise. Huntington Beach is a very safe city, not to be compared with any other in Los Angeles County. I remember once, two kids were about to fight in the corner of my house, there were a few more surrounding them. A neighbor called the police and there were police cars and a helicopter in minutes. Just for a kids fight!
The Security guard suggested me to contact the police as a citizen, do not send them emails or do not call them, speak to them directly, show them the pictures and please do us this favor. If the citizens complain, they will have more power than us public employees.
I've not contacted the police yet, but I'll do, and most probably I will update this post.

If you reader, are living in Huntington Beach, and like to walk in the park with your family, please be aware of this situation and help us to denounce it. Let's keep this city as safe as always and let's help the homeless to live in better places than the lagoon surroundings.
Your comment is very welcome!.


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