I don't even know where to begin unpacking the botched fireworks detonation on East 27th Street two years ago.
It's no secret that illegal fireworks are common in LA in the summer. I'd even call it a fact of life.
But the explosion on June 30, 2021 was preventable, and everything that's happened since then should have been handled better.
Arturo Ceja III was storing large amounts of illegal fireworks, which in and of itself is a bad idea. The homemade fireworks stored onsite, however, were a disaster waiting to happen. Professional fireworks are risky enough; homemade ones are known to be dangerously unstable.
The LAPD made a grave error detonating the fireworks, blowing up a neighborhood and putting dozens of people out of their homes or businesses.
Earlier this year, councilmember Curren Price, who represents the affected neighborhood, had the audacity to claim "Folks have got legal counsel and have decided not to accept our help. I think others are kind of gaming the system a little bit...They’ve had it good living in the hotel rent-free for several months. They want that to last as long as it can."
Reality check: NO ONE wants to have their home and possessions destroyed and be forced into a hotel indefinitely, no matter how nice the hotel is.
Regardless, two years later, 15 of the displaced families are still living in a hotel.
So far, no one but Ceja (who pleaded guilty) has taken any personal responsibility whatsoever.
Insurance companies and the city have miserably failed the affected families, some of whom are still unable to return to their empty, if not destroyed, homes. The people who own those homes do not want them empty; they are empty because they still aren't livable.
None of this would ever be allowed to happen in a wealthier neighborhood. Residents of Hancock Park, Brentwood, or Pacific Palisades (for example) have far greater resources to force accountability - and are more likely to have a friend or ally working for the city. (And are less likely to have illegal fireworks in their neighborhoods in the first place.)
Until the affected residents and business owners are all made whole, I hope the Los Angeles Times continues to publish updates. What LA needs more than anything else is accountability.