Los Angeles passes measures to limit homeless encampments

Los Angeles City Council approved a broad anti-camping measure on Thursday. It will greatly limit the number of homeless encampments across the city that have become an eyesore.

Los Angeles passes measures to limit homeless encampments

Although the measure was described as a compassionate way to help people get off the streets and restore public space in the city with the nation's second largest homeless population, critics claimed it would criminalize the issue. The measure would not be enforced unless someone turned down an offer for shelter.

Paul Krekorian (Co-author of the measure) stated that "I can't imagine any reason why we wouldn't unite in support what the people want us to do." "Restore order in our streets while also providing support and encouragement to those who are most in need."

The ordinance passed 13-2 would prohibit sitting, lying down, sleeping, or storing personal property on sidewalks that block access for handicapped persons, close to driveways, and within 500 feet (152m) of libraries, schools, daycare centers, or parks.

This measure will not take effect until the second vote next month. It replaces an anti-camping proposal with more severe penalties that was stalled in a committee. The police would only intervene if there was a crime. Those who refuse to leave would be cited instead of being arrested for a misdemeanor.

During a brief period of public comment, the majority of callers supported the measure. They described homeless encounters that included attacks and break-ins. One also explained how children who walk to school are forced to cross busy streets to avoid tents blocking sidewalks.

Some people opposed to the measure, including a couple who used profanity for their argument, claimed it lacks compassion and would criminalize the city's failure to solve a problem.

Advocates for the homeless stated that the measure was loosely written to allow for broad interpretation and enforcement. This will mean that most of the city is off-limits for people who live on the streets.

Pete White, LA Community Action Network, stated that "Draconian" is the right word. "It's impossible to do so."

White stated that a restriction on where RVs could be parked and people could sleep in cars over night left less than 5% of parking streets open.

According to the measure, homelessness has reached "epic proportions". It is still at the top of the political agendas in the state.

According to federal data, California houses more than 25% of America's homeless. Los Angeles' homeless population is more than 40,000, second only to New York.

Although a federal judge ordered LA to provide housing for thousands of homeless people living on Skid Row in this fall, an appeals court halted that order.

Two Republican candidates are seeking to replace Democratic Governor. Gavin Newsom, a recall candidate, visited LA County this week in order to discuss their plans to fix the problem statewide.

The crisis is widespread in Los Angeles. However, there has been a dispute over how to resolve the problem on Venice Beach. There, an encampment exploded during the coronavirus pandemic.

Residents are now worried about their safety and that of the tent-dwelling population. This is after several violent incidents including the death last week of an individual living on the beaches. In the case, a homeless person was also arrested.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva's deputies patrol unincorporated areas of the county. He entered city turf with a homeless outreach group to announce a plan for getting people into housing by July 4.

His lofty appeal, which moved some people from the boardwalk, but is unlikely to reach his goal by this weekend's weekend, was met resistance by much of LA’s political establishment, especially Councilmember Mike Bonin whose district includes Venice.

Bonin, who had criticized Villanueva's approach to housing, launched his own plan a few days later. This effort has already moved 64 people inside and is currently being implemented in phases through August. It promises permanent housing.

Bonin was one of the councilmembers who opposed the measure on Thursday. Bonin claimed that the city does not have the tens of thousand of homeless beds it needs and also criticised the plan for not allowing camping and sleeping to be permitted.

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