Just below the opulent residences in the Hollywood Hills, on the other side of the Warner Bros. Numerous RVs and camper vans are parked along Forest Lawn Drive in Studio in Burbank, California.
It's one of many impromptu trailer parks in Los Angeles where an increasing number of people are living in the open air in vans and motorhomes without access to running water or electricity.
Some people are RV owners. However, an increasing number of people are paying "van lords" who advertise motorhomes online rent — anywhere between $400 and $1,000 (£314 to £784) a month. Many of the vans are non-operational, and some of them are even without motors. In neighborhoods where $2,000 a month frequently isn't enough for a studio apartment, the doors lock though, and they provide affordable shelter.
They frequently avoid being towed away and are only rarely ticketed despite parking next to No Parking signs for weeks at a time. Even if there were sufficient tow trucks to handle massive camper vans, the city lacks the space to store them.
Growing complaints about sewage, environmental harm, and a string of fires from the trailer parks have prompted the city to consider taking action against van lords.
The entrepreneur and YouTuber Liberty Justice, who rents a van on Forest Lawn Drive, said, "It's terrible. I need to increase my income, so I won't endure another winter like this. " .
Ms. Justice claimed that her van lord has towed her to a number of neighborhoods without her consent in order to avoid parking tickets.
Numerous stunning individuals living what appears to be an amazing, Instagrammable life in a van can be found when you search for vanlife on social media.
Van dwellers, however, claim that reality is anything but glamorous. Others use friend's homes, gyms, truck stops, or the beach to take showers. When he has extra, one man claimed he just pours bottled water over his body on the sidewalk. In the park across from Universal Studios, where kids play baseball on the weekends, many people use the sink at the public restroom.
If your neighbors are littering or using drugs, you cannot report them to the police. Justice keeps her neighborhood tidy and uses solar generators to power the internet that she needs to run her business. However, she claimed that since the trailer is parked next to a busy road, the biggest risk is from traffic.
She claimed, "I was on my morning run when I was struck by a truck.". It can be challenging for me to maintain my optimism sometimes. ".
According to the city's most recent count of the homeless, there are currently about 6,500 people in LA living in RVs, a 40% increase since 2018, with a very noticeable rise across the city since the pandemic.
In response to an increasing number of homeless people, Los Angeles city and county officials have been working to move them indoors. More than 14,000 people have been taken off the streets as a result of various initiatives since Karen Bass was elected mayor in November.
However, a large portion of those individuals were spending the unusually chilly and wet winter in tents on the sidewalks. People who live in motorhomes frequently don't view themselves as being homeless, and the city has had a hard time convincing residents to give up their van or motorhome in exchange for a possible temporary housing alternative.
One man stood outside the van he rents in Venice Beach for $500 per month and inquired, "You'll be out again in 30 days and then what?". He said renting a van is expensive and that he doesn't believe the city's shelter or motel offerings will last.
Traci Park, a councilwoman for the city of Los Angeles, wants to crack down on "unscrupulous" van lords who are not held to the same standards as regular landlords.
She claimed that there was no oversight or regulation of this commercial practice in the city of Los Angeles.
To start regulating those who rent out their vehicles as homes, Ms. Park has proposed a motion.
Van lords assert that they are providing a service that the city has not provided.
One man, who wished to remain unnamed, claimed to own eight vans.
He claimed, "It aids people.". Where are they going to go next?
Bikes, dogs, chairs, BBQs, some human waste, and neat gardens are all over the sidewalks near the vans. Neighbors complain about the mess and attribute local crime to van dwellers. .
Unsafe conditions exist in many RVs. In camper van-related fires, residents have perished. Additionally, the pollution of public parks brought on by fires and human waste has angered LA residents more and more.
The last coastal wetland in the city, the Friends of the Ballona Wetlands is run by Scott Culbertson. Numerous native plants and hundreds of birds live there, along with one of the city's biggest RV parks.
Many parts of the area were destroyed by fire a few years ago, and in recent months, cold van dwellers have cut down trees to burn for warmth and cooking.
People discover trash, sewage, and even cash machines dumped into the water at the wetlands, and all of their signs and fences have been vandalized or set on fire, he claimed.
He continued, "Some people are frequently too afraid to walk in the wetlands near the trailer park, and they no longer bring in-town schoolchildren to that section of the wetlands because it's unsafe.".
I don't want to overstate how serious Los Angeles' homelessness problem is, but this is an environmental problem, Mr. Culbertson said. .
But many claim they don't have many other choices. .
Richard has been living in his RV for two years; it is parked a few miles from his Burbank childhood home. He spent the year before that living in his truck. He technically has become a van lord as well because, while his cousin is in jail, he rents out the motorhome for $400 per month.
It's too expensive to live anywhere else, he claimed, adding that he works construction jobs when he can and is saving money to relocate to a less expensive location like Texas or Arizona.