An apparently homeless man was found in the basement of the house at 1039 N. Spaulding Ave. where a fire occurred yesterday morning.
Lt. David Smith of the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station said it remains unclear what caused the fire at the house, which he described as a “packrat place.” The homeless man was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he remains in critical condition. Smith said the city’s Code Compliance office will investigate conditions in the house. Firefighters arrived quickly and extinguished the fire.
The incident is one of a number on the city’s Eastside that have raised concerns among residents about the homeless population there. Smith told the city’s Public Safety Commission last night that the Sheriff’s Station has increased its foot patrols from one night to two nights on the Eastside. Each foot patrol consists of two officers, although Smith acknowledged that it isn’t always possible for the station to find officers willing to work overtime to staff the patrols.
Smith attributed the large increase in petty thefts this past July over July 2014 (from 18 to 34 incidents, an increase of 89 percent), in part to the presence of homeless people at the Gateway, the shopping plaza on the southwest corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and La Brea. He said the Sheriff’s Station also was been working with the owner of the McDonald’s restaurant on La Brea to reduce the presence of homeless people there. Another factor in the increase, he said, was the passage in November 2014 of Proposition 47, which reduced many low-level theft and drug possession crimes from felonies to misdemeanors such as petty theft. Petty theft is defined as the theft of property worth $950 or less.