When your vehicle is your home


Anthony Aguilar/UT

RV’s by the underpass in East Los Angeles

Anthony Aguilar, Community News Reporter

The line of RVs, motorhomes and other vehicles on Ford Boulevard seems to keep growing.

That’s according to East Los Angeles residents who frequent the freeway underpass near Third Street. So it’s no surprise that some have recently floated the idea of banning parking in the area.

In 2021, a similar ordinance — one that didn’t allow people to live in their vehicles in residential areas  — did not get renewed. However, earlier this year, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to have its staff look into best practices to help people in RVs find better options and parking regulations that could address the issue, among other things.

Mike Herrera, who has been living in his vehicle at the underpass for about two years, said he understands why some people want to bring back the ordinance, but he hopes he isn’t sent to an industrial area.

“Trains are over there by Washington Boulevard, but it looks terrible over there — like ghetto ghetto,” he said. “Everyone I know here, the good people, picks up their trash, everyone throws their trash away, like at a campsite. It’s how we treat it, common courtesy.”

He pointed to a spot with trash on the floor to show the opposite.

“Over there, they expect the city to pick up after them,” he said. 

Herrera said he appreciated that the California Highway Patrol agents occasionally check on them and have provided support and encouragement to keep the area tidy.

“Highway Patrol has been nothing but nice; one Highway Patrol stopped by and gave me five bucks for a coffee, parking enforcement passes by here, and says, ‘Nice job. It’s looking good around here.”

Some local residents said they noticed more people have parked in the area.

“People live through hard times, which is understandable,” said Chris Noriega, a computer technician who rents a home within two miles of the encampment and sees it every day on his commute to work. “I have seen a few more lately, but it has been fine, especially since that street would hold their vehicles and doesn’t block anyone else.”

Other residents said people are free to live in their vehicles, but the city could take action to help those folks.

“Anyone can go anywhere they like,” said Luis Ramirez, a warehouse worker who rents a home on the border of East Los Angeles and Montebello. “I’d say the city can make an area for those who like more safety or don’t have to worry about the street sweepers because we all know tickets start going out, and it’s all about paying that fine after.”

Community News produces stories about under-covered neighborhoods and small cities on the Eastside and South Los Angeles. Please email feedback, corrections and story tips to [email protected]