Skip to Content
News

This Downtown Street Is Covered in Piles of Rat-Infested Trash ~ Neglect By L.A. Officials Apparent During Typhus Outbreak

[dropcap size=big]A[/dropcap] person built a ramshackle dwelling set amid trash piled five feet high and strewn along a wall for a hundred feet. Rats darted out from under the retch and rotten food, zigzagging every which way.

These are not conditions you usually expect to see in the United States. But this is Ceres Avenue in downtown Los Angeles, just yesterday, Wednesday Oct. 10, and this is where trash comes to sleep.

All images by Philip Iglauer.

Sprawling piles of rat-infested trash were left ignored by the city and now could be a source of the recent typhus outbreak, NBC Los Angeles said in a report. The city’s Department of Sanitation received more than 2,200 calls to 311 over a two-year period to pick up trash near homeless encampments, but failed to respond to more than half of those calls, according to the investigative report.

“If someone is calling 311 and not getting through, that's unacceptable," Mayor Garcetti told NBC, responding to the information. The NBC report dubbed the area in downtown L.A. where nine typhus cases have been reported as "The Typhus Zone." The areas encompasses  Skid Row, as well as nearby upscale residences and businesses.

[dropcap size=big]A[/dropcap] warehouse worker at an apparel company located on Ceres between 7th and 8th streets routinely sees rats on the street. He declined to provide his name for this story. A homeless man living near the corner of 7th Street and Ceres Ave. said he’s afraid he’ll lose his stuff as a result of possible street cleanups undertaken to address the typhus outbreak in downtown.

Amid the trash, homeless encampments heavily populate Ceres Ave. for blocks and blocks. Rats can be clearly seen squirming amongst the piles of human waste, rotten food, and other trash. It's a red-flag scenario that the city will now surely respond to, but a fresh wave of enforcement and clean-up could also impact people with no place else to go.

A homeless advocate working in the Skid Row area told the L.A. Taco that he’s concerned the city could overreact to the typhus outbreak by clearing out encampments and seizing property from people living there, which could be crushing to a person experiencing homelessness.

[UPDATE, 5:05 pm: NBC local reporter Joel Grover reports via Twitter that L.A. has cleaned up this stretch of Ceres Ave. Read on.]

RELATED: Anatomy of a Rent Strike ~ L.A. Taco Investigates

Homeless person bundled up on Ceres Ave.
A man sleeps on the streets of Ceres Ave., epicenter of a typhus outbreak./Photo by Philip Iglauer.

Rats and other rodents carrying fleas are drawn to large piles of trash like the one on Ceres Ave. When NBC reporters asked Garcetti why the city hasn't collected trash on a city street, he said: "Well, it should have been. And we're going to get to the bottom of why it wasn't and make sure that it is."

On Wednesday, hundreds of city workers rallied outside City Hall and called on Garcetti, a potential presidential candidate, to "Fix LA" and be more involved in contract talks. Separately, the county health department announced the first death of 2018 related mosquito-borne West Nile Virus, in a statement.

Ceres between 8th and 9th was the filthiest stretch/Google Maps.

People get sick when the infected flea feces are rubbed into cuts and scrapes in the skin. Although a very serious and usually uncommon disease, typhus is rarely deadly and can be treated with antibiotics.

County health officials have previously told L.A. Taco that they are still trying to pinpoint the source of the typhus infections. There are 57 reported cases of typhus in L.A. County so far. “All of the cases associated with the outbreak have a history of living or working in downtown L.A. Some persons were experiencing homelessness; others were not,” public health officials said on Oct. 4.

RELATED: Cases Of Flea-Borne Typhus in L.A. County Jump To 57 ~ Pasadena Is Calling It ‘Epidemic Levels’

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from L.A. TACO

Protester Whose Testicle Exploded After LAPD Officer Shot Him with ‘Less Lethal’ Firearm Receives $1.5 Million Settlement

Benjamin Montemayor had been protesting on Hollywood Boulevard for several hours on June 2, 2020, when at least 50 police officers descended upon his group and began firing munitions at the crowd, according to his civil rights lawsuit filed in Los Angeles federal court.

May 17, 2024

Westlake’s Oldest Gay Bar Set to be Demolished

Opened in the early 1960s, the Silver Platter has long been known as a safe space for immigrant gay and transgender communities in Westlake. The building dates back to the 1920s.

May 17, 2024

What To Eat This Weekend Around L.A.: Salvadoran Fried Chicken Sandwiches, 48-Hour Pho, and Tacos Placeros

Plus, a new Enrique Olvera-approved monthly "mercadito" in D.T.L.A., a new arepa spot with patacon burgers that use fried plaintains for buns, and more in this week's roundup.

May 17, 2024

The 13 Best Tacos In Boyle Heights

Boyle Heights is arguably the city’s most important local taco galaxy in the larger taco universe that is Los Angeles. Remember, this is Boyle Heights! It's not East L.A., and it is most definitely not just some vague place known as “the Eastside.”

May 16, 2024

Here Are All the Restaurants (and the One Taquería In the Entire Country That Got a Star) On Michelin’s First Ever Mexico Guide

Europe's Michelin Guide recognized both Baja Californias, Quintana Roo, Mexico City, Oaxaca, and Nuevo Léon. Most of the usual nice restaurants got stars, but there were some questionable omissions. Also, in a country teeming with life-changing street food, only one taquería in the entire country was awarded "1 star."

May 15, 2024
See all posts