A Los Angeles man is giving the world a bird's-eye view over some of the region's homelessness encampments by deploying a drone in the hopes that it will light a fire under residents and council members and inspire change.
"It's a little scary even to see from the air," said Johnny Perez, the drone pilot who runs the @dyingcalifornia Instagram account. "It's just encampment after encampment."
Perez shot the drone video and shared it in the hopes that — as he says — the squeaky wheel will get the grease.
"It's encampments of 20-plus, 30-plus tents, and chop shops for bikes," he said. "It's their home I guess, but it's not right!"
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In a video he posted a week before, the footage shows a sprawling encampment near the Northridge mall that sits above the LA River, and down below, trash that teeters on a health hazard.
He said he'd hoped to get a group of people angry and "pissed off" at council members, and maybe they'd do something.
The Bureau of Sanitation said the property belongs to Metro and falls under their jurisdiction.
In another location, Perez wonders where the refuse that's left behind is going.
"I can see the trash from the air but I don't know what's in there. I can only imagine whatever they produce — people use the restroom, drug use," he said. "That same Chatsworth wash connects with the river by Griffith Park which is what the mayor promotes for kayaking. It's the same river, man. I don't want to go kayaking."
The Bureau of Sanitation said area near the Chatsworth wash is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Recreation and Parks, and Recreation and Parks will be leading a cleanup at the beginning of August, with LA Sanitation providing support.
A third location Perez shot is just off the 405 Freeway north of Burbank Boulevard and Oxnard Street. The NBCLA I-Team has had its eye on this spot for more than a month, and the growing trash pile the city has yet to clean up.
"The regular people and the taxpayers are losing," Perez said.
Perez said that's the reason he started "Dying California" on social media platforms. From his vantage point, he says the solution is simpler than anyone is letting on.
"Just enforce the laws, enforce parking laws, enforce vehicle dwelling laws," he said. "Enforce trash and littering laws. Just irritate them. Either it will force them out or they'll stop."
The Bureau of Sanitation said staff sample and test Los Angeles River water twice a week at three locations in each of the Los Angeles River Recreation Zones — the area where it starts, the middle, and the end of each zone. Water quality results can be viewed at this site.
Mayor Eric Garcetti has called the homeless crisis a national emergency that requires federal action. The Democratic mayor proposed an unlikely political partnership earlier this month when he called on President Trump to help take on the crisis.
Figures released in June showed a 16 precent jump in Los Angeles' homeless population over the last year, pegging it at 36,300 — the size of a small city. The jump came after the mayor helped convince voters in 2016 to borrow $1.2 billion to construct housing for the homeless.
After the report's release, Phil Ansell, who runs the county's homeless initiative, said that in a growing economy rental rates have outpaced wages, particularly for people living at the margins and making minimum wage. Officials have said more needs to be done to increase the supply of affordable housing and prevent more families from becoming homeless.