A deal for a state-owned lot in downtown Los Angeles to be used as a parking area for recreational vehicles, vans and cars lived in by homeless persons in danger of contracting coronavirus was put on hold for environmental concerns, according to court papers filed Wednesday.
The proposed settlement between the city of Los Angeles and the L.A. Alliance, a coalition of Skid Row-area business owners, formerly homeless and disabled city dwellers, was the topic of discussion Tuesday night at an off-site federal court hearing overseen by U.S. District Judge David Carter.
At the last minute, however, the court learned that the proposed agreement was subject to evaluation of any environmental concerns the site at 16th Street and Maple Avenue may present.
Carter asked the parties to file a joint status report before 4 p.m. Tuesday, addressing the status of the environmental review, including any tentative findings and conclusions, and any non-environmental issues remaining unresolved, according to the judge’s order filed in Los Angeles federal court.
In the lawsuit, L.A. Alliance alleges the city of Los Angeles and county are not doing enough to find solutions to the problem of an estimated 5,000 people living in tents, cars and on the streets throughout the downtown area, especially in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
Carter previously dealt with the lack of working sanitation facilities on Skid Row. As a result of his attention, defendants last week installed dozens of new toilets and sinks in response to the coronavirus threat, and promised to service them daily.
He then turned his attention to finding safe areas for recreational vehicle parking in the blighted 50-block area. The lot at 16th and Maple was previously earmarked for shelters, but the parties agreed to make efforts toward using it for RVs.
A filing by the Orange County Catholic Worker, which joined the suit as an intervenor, stated that more than 16,500 people — about 28% of the unhoused community in the city and county — live in vehicles.
Although there is no restriction on living in a camper in Los Angeles, there is a limitation on overnight parking on certain streets between 2 and 5 a.m. and a prohibition on RVs on some streets, the OCCW noted.