LOS ANGELES–A hearing to reconsider an ordinance banning homeless encampments within 500 feet of schools and daycare centers is set for July 27 after the Los Angeles City Council failed to give the proposal its unanimous approval.
The council voted 10-1 in favor of the ordinance, with Councilman Mike Bonin dissenting. The vote did not reach unanimous support, so the matter will be re-voted by the council after the summer recess.
The vote of June 1 took place during an often-raucous meeting, which was frequently interrupted by shouting from members.
The ordinance amends the city’s broad law that regulates the placement of homeless encampments. Municipal Code 41. 18 prohibits sitting, sleeping, lying or otherwise obstructing the public right of way in several areas of the city.
Those areas include within 2 feet of any fire hydrant or fire plug; within 5 feet of any operational or utilizable entrance or exit; within 10 feet of a loading dock or driveway; in a manner that interferes with any activity for which the city has issued a permit or restricts accessible passage as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act; or anywhere within a street, including bike paths.
The law protects the right of the public within 500 foot of “sensitive” facilities like schools, daycare facilities and parks. However, the city must be able to identify each location for its enforcement.
The amendment, which was tentatively approved on July 1 and approved by the council’s Homelessness and Poverty Committee last week is a blanket ban against encampments in 500 feet from all schools.
Councilmen Mitch O’Farrell, Paul Krekorian and Paul Krekorian voted in support of the ordinance. They dismissed claims by critics that they are trying to hide the problem of homelessness rather than making it better through services and housing.
Numerous opponents to the measure shouted from the crowd as councilmen spoke. Council President Nury Martnez issued warnings and ordered that at least three council members be removed from the chamber. Krekorian and O’Farrell, visibly angry, claimed that the behavior exemplifies the bullying tactics employed by some organisations. O’Farrell accused them of spreading “disinformation.”
” You can make protests all you like, but that doesn’t alter the fact,” O’Farrell stated. It is our focus. This is our main focus .”
Krekorian said, “These bullies that want to disrupt the business don’t want to recognize that success .”
” We need to continue moving forward with common sense solutions,” he stated. This change does not make homelessness a crime. While we take the necessary steps to bring some sanity back to the streets, while protecting the youth of the city
Bonin resisted the measure and suggested that it would just make the homeless more visible. He added, “Making them less visible doesn’t make them go away .”
” “In some ways, we make it worse,” said he. “By dislocating people, we actually disable people from housing and other services.”
Councilman Joe Buscaino suggested the idea for an encampment ban close to schools, but it didn’t gain traction. This issue was revived this year partly due to Alberto Carvalho (Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent), who stated that teachers, principals, and parents expressed concern about the presence of homeless camps near schools.
” I’ve witnessed elementary schools that were not suitable for our children as parents. Carvalho previously told the council that individuals with mental illnesses, including some who were completely unclothed and shouting obscenities in the ears of children, had been seen.
Buscaino is a member of the Homelessness and Poverty Committee. He stated last week that the approval of the amendment would “ensure the most holy places among us, which are our playgrounds and school, are safe .”
Numerous speakers spoke at the council meeting on both sides.
Supporters for the ordinance include some school workers and parents. They said that the matter is about safety for the children walking by the encampments while on the way to class.
One parent and one school worker said to the council that it would “help reduce the risk that students, families and colleagues face every day because of the criminal activities that have been occurring .”
A school principal informed the council that students are exposed to unsafe, unsanitary conditions .”
Opponents claimed the move was a criminalization homelessness. Others called it an expansion of an existing restrictive ordinance that restricts the movement of homeless people in search of housing and services.
” This isn’t about fixing homes, it’s all about aesthetics,” said one opponent.
The city ordinance that is already in effect prohibits sleeping and encampment in these areas.
- up to 500 foot of designated overpasses, underpasses, freeway ramps, tunnels, freeway ramps, tunnels, bridges, pedestrian bridges, subways, tracks, or wash ground.
- up to 1,000 feet of a facility opened after Jan. 1, 2018, that provides shelter, safe sleeping, safe parking or navigation centers for persons experiencing homelessness.
The ordinance allows for the city to prohibit encampments in any area that is deemed to be a continuing threat to public safety or health. This includes:
- death of serious bodily injury to any person on the site due to a dangerous condition.
- repeated violent or serious crimes or threats to violent crimes, including human traficking.
- fires are available at this location.
A violation of the ordinance can result in a citation or an infraction. However, “a person who resists, delays, or obstructs an employee from enforcing the section or who refuses to comply with an employee authorized by the city” could face additional fines or be charged as a misdemeanor.
City News Service was a contributor to this report.