Sound Studio Finds Creative Way to Break Up Homeless Encampment

If you’re someone who has maintained an interest in the American music landscape and the recording industry, particularly in earlier eras, you’re likely familiar with Sunset Sound Recording located on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. Plenty of legendary recordings came out of there. But like so much of California, that neighborhood has become overrun with homeless encampments, drug usage, and crime. The studio was founded in 1960 by Salvador Camarata, but he later passed it down to his son Paul. Paul had begun to despair over the deteriorating conditions in the neighborhood and could get no help from the city to keep the area around his business clear. That’s when an idea struck him. After an infrequent street cleaning crew came through, Camarata brought in a dozen massive planters, each with a huge, spikey cactus growing in it. He arranged them on the walkway so there was no room to put tents up there again. Then he brought in a dozen more. The homeless campers moved around the corner. (CBS News)

The owner of a storied recording studio in Hollywood installed planters to break up and limit an encampment encroaching on his business. 

“This is one of the worst environmental challenges that we’ve been through here,” Sunset Sound owner Paul Camarata said. 

Camarata’s father opened the studio at Sunset Boulevard and North Cherokee Avenue in 1960. Now, with Sunset Sound in his hands, Camarata is worried about the future of the family business. 

“This is a third-world country around the corner here,” he said. “It’s terrible.”

As you can see in the linked report, things had gotten bad outside of the studio. The owner compared it to “a third-world country.” It wasn’t just an eyesore, either. Camarata said that people from the encampment had stolen speakers and blank checks from his business. There had also been a small fire ignited on the front of his store.

He seems to have made every effort to do the right thing. He contacted the police, the city government, and the appropriate departments that are supposed to handle situations like this. They were all already overwhelmed and couldn’t help him. So he took matters into his own hands. He didn’t have to physically assault anyone or cause damage. He simply moved in massive planter boxes full of earth that were too large for the campers to move. And the huge cactus plants discouraged people from trying to climb up onto them to cause mischief. They finally got the message and moved around the corner.

Unfortunately, the story may not have a happy ending. Camarata’s solution is working for now, but the office of Los Angeles City Councilman Hugo Soto-Martinez (who represents the area) was contacted. They said that the encampment was “on the councilman’s radar” but there simply wasn’t anything he could do until “sustainable housing comes online.” (Which translates to “probably never.”)

To make matters worse, his office said that Camarata doesn’t have permits for the cactus planters, so “they will likely be removed.” Are you kidding me? They can’t remove dozens of drug addicts and their filthy tents, but they have the time and resources to remove some decorative planters put up by a taxpaying business owner? California truly is looking more and more like Idiocracy every day. If someone like Paul Camarata comes up with a relatively simple and inexpensive solution to a problem like this, perhaps you should try to emulate it rather than punishing him. Who is he harming, after all?

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