LOS ANGELES (CNS) LA Councilmember Joe Buscaino has introduced a resolution to ban encampments within 500 feet of all Los Angeles public schools as part of the city’s new sweeping anti-camping law.
The ordinance — which goes into effect on Sept. 3 — modifies the city’s current anti-camping law in Municipal Code 41.18, to prohibit sitting, sleeping, lying, storing personal property or otherwise obstructing the public right of way in several areas of the city, including within two feet of any fire hydrant or fire plug; within five 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 ordinance also protects the public right of way within 500 feet of a “sensitive” facility, including schools, once the City Council passes a resolution to designate a specific area for enforcement, posts signage and gives notice of the date that the ordinance will be enforced.
Buscaino announced his resolution, which was seconded by Councilmember Paul Koretz, on Monday, Aug. 16, at Larchmont Charter School, as opponents of the ordinance chanted over the mayoral candidate and stood behind him with signs that read “Housekeys Not Handcuffs” and “Services Not Sweeps.”
Afterward, Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas, who chairs the Homelessness and Poverty Committee, spoke out against Buscaino’s plan.
“There is a right way and a wrong way to address unsheltered homelessness in our city. (Councilman) Buscaino’s approach is the wrong way,” he said in a Twitter post. “The right way would help people actually transition from the streets to housing, instead of displacing them from one neighborhood to the other.”
Last Thursday, the Los Angeles City Council’s Homelessness and Poverty Committee advanced a motion to approve recommendations for a Street Engagement Strategy to accompany a sweeping ordinance to restrict sleeping and homeless encampments in certain areas of the city.
“The pilot Street Engagement Strategy aims to deploy dedicated resources (both personnel and housing) to the city’s most complex unsheltered sites … our strategy must be to scale up, not scatter! No quick fixes or grandstanding, (Councilman) Buscaino, just problem solving and hard work,” Ridley-Thomas said in his Twitter post Monday.
The Street Engagement Strategy motion will next be reviewed by the Energy, Climate Change, Environmental Justice, and River Committee, but Ridley-Thomas said the goal is to have the full council approve the motion before the ordinance goes into effect on Sept. 3.
Koretz issued a statement Tuesday, Aug. 17, which reads: “As Los Angeles children are returning to in-person learning this week, it is of utmost importance that they have healthy and safe school routes free of the kind of litter and obstructions so often found in and around homeless encampments that may include debris, broken glass, needles, human waste and other unhealthy refuse.
“Furthermore, we can not let our children and families walk in the streets with traffic on their route to school because the encampments are taking up much of the sidewalk,” he said.
The ordinance was approved by the City Council, with two council members dissenting on July 28, and signed by Mayor Eric Garcetti the next day.
Assistant City Administrative Officer Yolanda Chavez told committee members that the office recommends a concentrated engagement process be implemented before enforcing the ordinance for encampments in areas that require a resolution and posted signage, which includes within 500 feet of schools, day care facilities, parks and libraries.