By Sue Favor
SOUTH LOS ANGELES — Victims of an explosion that rocked a South Los Angeles neighborhood June 30 can now receive assistance from the city at a consolidated location.
Representatives from the City Attorney’s Office, the City Clerk and mental health service providers are among those on hand at a walk-in service center, set up by the office of Ninth District City Councilman Curren Price. The multiple-services approach is designed to make it easier for residents to address all of their needs at one time.
“Having a one-stop shop for the victims of the 27th Street Explosion has been instrumental in connecting them directly with important services and resources, as well as comfort in knowing that the city is behind them 100%,” Price said.
The Los Angeles Police Department has admitted its officers significantly misgauged the amount of illegal fireworks that they detonated at East 27th and San Pedro streets June 30. The blast destroyed the police rig and sent debris flying through the air. The force of the explosion damaged 25 homes, 13 businesses and 37 vehicles nearby.
Residents on 27th Street were evacuated from their homes, and cleanup crews were brought in. LAPD Chief Michel Moore told the Police Commision July 27 that the street had been reopened, 14 residents were allowed to return to their homes, and all affected businesses had reopened.
Even so, many residents sustained income loss, were injured or are suffering from trauma due to the incident. Initially, some residents didn’t know where to go for help. Price’s office set up an assistance site at nearby Trinity Recreation Center. Due to the city Recreation and Parks Department needs, the site was relocated to the VCN YouthSource Center, at 1006 E. 28th St.
Having a central location for multiple agencies helps those who do not have transportation, or who may have a language barrier.
“Over the past month, whether residents needed to file a claim, obtain mental health services, medical referrals or other support, we have been making sure the process is streamlined to ensure they get the help they need,” Price said.
During a public meeting 12 days after the blast, Price said his office hadn’t been notified of the planned detonation, and that his heart went out to the victims. Using an emergency fund, Price has helped constituents find hotels and other household necessities.
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is conducting an investigation into the incident, and LAPD has placed its officers who were decision-makers in the explosion on administrative leave. But it will take years for litigation in the case to be settled.
Price grilled Moore about the explosion during the July 28 City Council meeting, asking why his office wasn’t notified in advance about the detonation in his district.
Moore, who earlier had claimed that Price’s office was notified before the explosion, backtracked at the council meeting.
“Let me be clear that your office was not notified of the planned detonation of this material,” Moore said.
Price has designated $1 million from his office’s Environmental Equity and Reimagining Public Safety fund to provide long-term housing, repairs and financial assistance to residents whose homes were damaged by the blast.
He’s also providing $10,000 no-strings-attached grants to 25 households that have been pre-identified as being severely impacted.
Price said that his office’s fund should be reimbursed by the Los Angeles Police Department.
The City Council unanimously approved a motion to order a report from the police department on the “failed operation” and how the public will be better protected in the future. The City Attorney’s Office was also instructed to ensure that people are properly compensated for property damage and injuries.
The office has received 145 claims for money for damages and 62 were still being processed as of July 28.
The council’s motion also seeks funding to reimburse Price’s office’s fund.
“We don’t want another apology. We don’t want you to feel sorry for us. We want action from our government and we want it now,” Price said.
The service center will change locations after this Friday. Residents can call Price’s office at (323) 846-2651 for the new site.
City News Service also contributed to this story.
Sue Favor is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers, who covers South Los Angeles. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.