Homeless commune closed by LA property owner: Jurassic Park FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Sun, 23 May 1999 02:14:44 -0700 (PDT)

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May 22, 1999 [California, USA]

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A homeless tree-shaded commune fondly referred to as
``Jurassic Park'' is now extinct after the area was shut down by the
property's owner.

For at least a decade, inhabitants lived in the creek-lined ravine
alongside the Foothill Freeway in a 50-foot-long cluster of plywood and
tarp dwellings. The homeless encampment was one of several in the foothill
communities of Tujunga and Sunland, some 12 miles northeast of downtown Los

The area was outfitted with a central mess tent for mealtime and an old tub
for bathing. An outdoor living room had area rugs and a plywood table.
Three married couples and a former Vietnam War medic were among the
homeless there.

But nearby residents complained recently and by Friday the dwelling was
empty. ``No trespassing'' signs were posted, and the area's 14 remaining
residents were told to leave the day before.

The property's owner hired a contractor to clear the area of brush and
structures Monday, said Pat Davenport, a deputy to Los Angeles City
Councilman Joel Wachs.

City fire officials recommended a closure by July 1 because of brush fire

Fire and public health concerns were something new, said former inhabitant
Charles Bolin, a 50-year-old Vietnam veteran.

The inhabitants have been ``out of sight and out of mind'' for 12 years, he

``We were a family. It all worked,'' said former inhabitant Charles Bolin,
a 50-year-old Vietnam veteran. Residents pooled their money for groceries
and sundries, one person was assigned fire detail, and the community
handled problems by democratic consensus.

The area was called Jurassic Park by some because of the wild animals that
roam there, including deer, rabbits and coyotes.

Officials are hoping to find alternative housing for those displaced by the
closure. On Thursday, the homeless will be transported to a Tujunga park
for a meeting with shelter and social services agencies, Davenport said.

The camp's closure became a reality for some a few weeks ago. Police
officers and city officials visited the homeless there. Some dwellers
decided to leave then, packing their belongings in suitcases and it was
unknown where they went.

For Bolin, his future is unclear since he does not like shelters.

``Maybe it's a push to get us to do something,'' Bolin said, packing an
American flag and a few other cherished possessions. ``I don't know. Maybe
it will push us down farther.''


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