This week’s news that the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors are considering refurbishing the aging Baldwin Park and Downey Shelters was met with general skepticism by employees and veteran watchers of the DACC. Everyone knows the Downey Shelter, originally built in the late 1940’s and the Baldwin Park facility, built in the 1950’s are woefully inadequate and hanging together by bubble gum and super glue. However, few people who either work for, or with, the DACC believe that the County of Los Angeles will do anything more than waste money commissioning a study recommending that they move or fix these two facilities, and then let the plans rot on the backburner until they are eventually forgotten altogether.
The reason they won’t fix these antiquated shelters is that the Downey Shelter is lying on condemned land that for over ten years has been designated to be used to construct a new highway. Los Angeles County is not going to spend twelve million dollars and then have it destroyed a few years later, if and when this road is ever built. Likewise the Baldwin Park Shelter is also on a parcel of land that is reportedly to be included in a redevelopment project which would force the poorly run facility to relocate.
Perhaps it is due to the intense mistrust for the bureaucrats running the DACC permeating its workforce, but more than a few employees and a few people committed to bettering the shelters, including myself, feel that the timing of this announcement was nothing but a smokescreen to try to divert media attention from the recently filed lawsuit against Los Angeles County and DACC head Marcia Mayeda for negligence, fraud and their covering up their own culpability in the death of jogger Pamela DeVitt. It has been amazing how many shelter employees, including several DACC executives, have expressed their disgust and outright hostility towards Mayeda’s conduct, and the amount of evidence being leaked showing Mayeda’s misdeeds is growing on a daily basis. One well-placed DACC insider went so far as to instruct employees to stop complaining about Mayeda to the Board of Supervisors, because the Board never investigates complaints about the DACC and merely forwards any complaints to none other than Marcia Mayeda for investigation! To no one’s surprise, asking Mayeda to investigate herself has not been working that well! Instead the DACC executive suggested complaints about the DACC be made to the Los Angeles County Auditor, whose investigations cannot be perverted by Mayeda’s dirty hands.
New shelter facilities are desperately needed. New shelter management is even more desperately needed. We aren’t holding our breath for the former, but on the latter it may finally be that the light at the end of the tunnel is not an oncoming train.