'All we do is clean and clean': There are big plans for MacArthur Park, but residents are skeptical

Veronica Jarquin likes to visit MacArthur Park every few days and let her 3-year-old run free on the playground.

On a recent morning, a man was smoking weed by the slide so they had to skip it and turn back home.

 “It’s OK,” she told her daughter in a warm tone. “We’ll try again tomorrow.”

In the six years Jarquin, 33, has lived a few blocks from the park, she’s learned to tolerate the troubles that have long plagued this place. She holds her breath when the grass reeks of urine. She keeps her distance when police are making an arrest. She never goes near the yelling homeless men or their tents on Wilshire Boulevard.

 Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times  Victor Montes, 72, pushes his ice cream cart around the lake at MacAthur park at sunset.

Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times

Victor Montes, 72, pushes his ice cream cart around the lake at MacAthur park at sunset.

 Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times  A barefoot woman sleeps beneath a memorial of Gen. Douglas MacArthur at MacArthur Park in Los Angeles' Westlake neighborhood.

Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times

A barefoot woman sleeps beneath a memorial of Gen. Douglas MacArthur at MacArthur Park in Los Angeles' Westlake neighborhood.

 Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times  Dylan Hernandez, 9, left, Christian Juarez, 11, Angel Tistoj, 10, and David Chaj, 11, practice their soccer skills after sunset at MacArthur Park.

Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times

Dylan Hernandez, 9, left, Christian Juarez, 11, Angel Tistoj, 10, and David Chaj, 11, practice their soccer skills after sunset at MacArthur Park.

 Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times  A newly renovated entrance to MacArthur Park at the corner of 7th and Alvarado streets.

Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times

A newly renovated entrance to MacArthur Park at the corner of 7th and Alvarado streets.

 Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times  Nancy Tran feeds birds bread at sunrise on the lake at MacArthur Park.

Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times

Nancy Tran feeds birds bread at sunrise on the lake at MacArthur Park.

 Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times  Sean Roberts, 52, is homeless and lives in a tent by the lake at MacArthur Park.

Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times

Sean Roberts, 52, is homeless and lives in a tent by the lake at MacArthur Park.

 Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times  An LAPD officer checks the tattoos for gang affiliations of a parolee arrested for an outstanding warrant at MacArthur Park on Oct. 7, 2016.

Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times

An LAPD officer checks the tattoos for gang affiliations of a parolee arrested for an outstanding warrant at MacArthur Park on Oct. 7, 2016.

 Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times  A homeless woman sits in her tent as sprinklers water the grass at MacArthur Park.

Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times

A homeless woman sits in her tent as sprinklers water the grass at MacArthur Park.

 Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times  Lunchtime diners line up outside Langer's Deli across from MacArthur Park in the Westlake neighborhood of Los Angeles.

Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times

Lunchtime diners line up outside Langer's Deli across from MacArthur Park in the Westlake neighborhood of Los Angeles.

 Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times  Pedestrians cross 7th Street at Alvarado Street next to MacArthur Park as a Lamborhini driver waiting for carry-out from Langer's Deli idles on Oct. 7.

Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times

Pedestrians cross 7th Street at Alvarado Street next to MacArthur Park as a Lamborhini driver waiting for carry-out from Langer's Deli idles on Oct. 7.

 Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times  A man pushes a bicycle past a street display of a TV and shoes for sale at Alvarado and 7th streets, across from MacArthur Park.

Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times

A man pushes a bicycle past a street display of a TV and shoes for sale at Alvarado and 7th streets, across from MacArthur Park.

Chris Alexakisparks