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Parents outraged at homeless problem after van explodes outside Hollywood preschool

By KRISTINE LAZAR, KCAL/KCBS Staff

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    HOLLYWOOD, California (KCAL, KCBS) — A Hollywood preschool may be forced to shut down after a van exploded several yards from its front door.

“I just hear like boom, boom,” said the owner of Sunset Montessori Preschool Liliya Kordon. “I just look and I see a big fire.”

Kordon said she had to rush her kids to safety when the van exploded right across the street.

“We just went into the backyard as far as possible from this lot,” she said.

Students’ parents said that the explosion is the latest from a string of concerns surrounding a growing homeless problem in the area.

“It’s just,” said parent Alina Barrass. “It’s just been a nightmare.”

Last week, Barrass said that she saw two homeless people having sex right in front of the school’s entrance as she dropped off her 2-year-old daughter.

Other parents have sent photos of trash piling up in front of the driveways, tents blocking the sidewalk and people doing drugs. While CBSLA’s Kristine Lazar was reporting on the story she saw beer cans, bottles of urine and a hypodermic needle littered on the street.

“Other instances are just walking around in circles, screaming profanity, getting into argument with each other, using drugs,” Barrass added. “It’s always just something bizarre.”

As the issue persists, enrollment at the preschool has dropped from 45 kids a few years ago, to just five students.

“It keeps getting worse and worse,” said Barrass. “I want the city to know what’s going on here. This is not ok.”

Parents said that the Los Angeles Police Department has been responsive and has cleaned up the area. However, the tents keep returning, typically, over the weekend when the school is closed.

Councilman Mitch O’Farrell said this is why he recently voted to ban encampments near schools and daycares.

“Councilmember O’Farrell shares the concerns raised by the Sunset Montessori school and parents, which is why he recently voted to approve regulations on encampments near schools and daycares in Los Angeles. Under Councilmember O’Farrell’s leadership, our district has also produced far more affordable housing than almost anywhere in the city; we’ve hired dedicated outreach teams to help connect unhoused people to housing and other resources needed to provide wellness and stability; and we are piloting the City’s first unarmed crisis response program right here in Hollywood, in which service providers – with lived experience being unhoused – respond to certain calls for service related to homelessness. Councilmember O’Farrell’s team has engaged with Sunset Montessori parents on numerous occasions, including meeting on site, and we will keep working to ensure a safe environment around the school.”

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