Screen grab via ABC 7.

Los Angeles City Hall has a serious rat infestation problem, and the issue is increasing fears that the typhus outbreak is going to get worse:

Rats are running rampant outside — and inside — Los Angeles City Hall, and city officials are racing to get the infestation under control amid a “terrifying” typhus outbreak.

The rodents have turned up dead in the building’s ceiling and scurrying around City Council President Herb Wesson’s office, according to the Los Angeles Times. Outside, a rat was recently spotted gnawing through a pumpkin put out for decoration at the building’s Halloween party.

And in November, city attorney Elizabeth Greenwood contracted typhus while working in the downtown office, CBS Los Angeles reported.

“It was terrifying,” Greenwood told the station Wednesday. “I thought I was going to die and couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me.”

The videos are disturbing:

The LA Times reports that city leaders are calling for an investigation:

City Council President Herb Wesson on Wednesday submitted a motion asking the city to report back on the “scope of vermin and pest control issues” at City Hall and adjoining city buildings.

“Employees shouldn’t have to come to work worried about rodents,” Wesson said in interview. “I intend to do whatever it is we need” to solve the problem.

[…]

In his motion, Wesson is seeking a cost estimate to remove all of the carpet from City Hall and the adjoining buildings, and replace it with alternative flooring. The motion also calls for a tally of live plants — including varieties that “are most attractive to vermin” — in every city-owned or city-operated building downtown.

Wesson also wants the city to come up with a policy to require employees to secure their food after hours and for custodial services to throw out food that’s left out.

Not noted in that article is the fact that a homeless encampment is nearby:

The California Department of Public Health first reported the flea-borne typhus outbreak in L.A. County in October and said that the affected area included large parts of downtown where homeless populations sleep, including Skid Row. It said it had recorded 167 confirmed cases in 2018.

A February 2018 LA Times piece detailed the surge of homelessness in the area and the problems it presented:

The number of those living in the streets and shelters of the city of L.A. and most of the county surged 75% — to roughly 55,000 from about 32,000 — in the last six years. (Including Glendale, Pasadena and Long Beach, which conduct their own homeless counts, the total is nearly 58,000.)

Three out of four homeless people — 41,000 — live in cars, campers, tents and lean-tos, by far the biggest single group of unsheltered people in any U.S. city. If you took out Los Angeles, national homelessness would have dropped last year for the first time since the recession.

[…]

Tent cities stretch from the Antelope Valley desert to the Santa Monica coast, with stopovers in unlikely communities — even Bel-Air, where a homeless cooking fire was implicated in December’s Skirball fire.

During an October hygiene survey, county public health officials identified 222 encampments, including 50 with 30 or more people living in them. These ragtag outposts have altered the basic terms of urban life.

People in Koreatown step outside their fancy condos to find tents, rotting food and human feces at their doorsteps. Buses and trains have become de facto shelters, and thousands of people sleep in fear and degradation.

A nearby San Bernardino county resident who has family in Los Angeles told me she’s followed this issue for a long time and thinks the city is trying to cover up what’s at the root of the typhus outbreak and rat investations:

“[Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti] has ignored the huge homeless problem. Wait, scratch that, he has exacerbated the problem by not allowing any law enforcement to even touch the vagrants. The fire that started on the 405 a couple of years ago (across from the Getty Museum) was started by a homeless encampment under the freeway because they light fires – highly ILLEGAL fires but cops are not allowed to touch them,” said the concerned citizen, who wishes to remain anonymous.

“Wesson is acting like this is all about plants in the office and old carpet, but the rats and fleas are because of the homeless encampments that surround city hall – tons of garbage and food and filth that attract rats who, with their fleas, then go into the surrounding buildings.”

Doesn’t it sound like that maybe – just maybe – this issue is bigger than just carpeting, unsecured food, and live plants?

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