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L.A. Union Station bans homeless

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Homeless people in Los Angeles are no longer welcome at L.A.’s Union Station reported the L.A. Times on December 21, 2013.

To stop the homeless from using L.A.’s Union Station as a homeless shelter, guards are asking to see tickets of all travelers who attempt to have a seat inside the historic building.

Alicia Mendivil, from Yuma, Arizona, was unnerved when she was asked to show her ticket.

"You can tell a homeless person from somebody who's not, can't you?" said Mendivil.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority began a pilot program on December 9 that limits seating in L.A.’s Union Station to ticketed Amtrak and Metrolink passsengers.

MTA officials say the program was enacted due to numerous complaints about the homeless invading the terminal.

"We were getting a lot of complaints. Our clientele isn't particularly well-heeled," said Ken Pratt, director of Los Angeles Union Station Property Management for the MTA. "They were being prevented from using the terminal."

Attempts by the MTA to close the station between the hours of 1 to 4 a.m. for cleaning were unsuccessful.

"We saw people removing insects from themselves and dropping them on chairs next to them," Pratt said.

While the move has some passengers and residents happy, it has left others with a bad taste in their mouths.

"It seems really unfair that they're not allowed to come in to get warm," said Clare Holzer, an artist who lives in downtown's historic core.

"It continues this trend of telling people not to be in public places," said Richard Schave, who operates a historic tour business with his wife, Kim Cooper.

The program is a work in progress and the MTA is willing to make changes that are beneficial to all parties. The MTA will be addressing the pilot program at an upcoming meeting.

"It's not an insensitivity; we're trying to do the right thing," Pratt said. "It's a matter of the political will of the community at large."

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