Last month, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health inspected a nine-block area of Skid Row and discovered human waste, injection needles, condoms and a rat infestation, all of which violate county and state health codes, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.
"The human feces are certainly very disturbing, as are the hypodermic needles," said Jonathan Fielding, the county's top public health official. "The situation appears to have worsened."
The city requested the inspection, going against a federal court injunction issued last June that has limited sweeps by police and cleanup crews in the area.
The injunction restricted police from seizing abandoned personal property from Skid Row residents, a lot of whom are homeless. There is nothing in the injunction about the cleaning of human feces or needles, but city officials have said that when crews try to remove a pile of apparent debris, residents often claim it's their personal property.
"From the city's point of view, we have a public health crisis," said Special Assistant City Atty. Jane Usher. "There are such vast quantities of materials deposited on the streets and sidewalks."
The city is in the process of appealing the injunction. Usher said officials are working to create protocols that balance the injunction while ensuring people can live and work in a healthy environment.