The Los Angeles City Council Wednesday voted to enforce its new anti-camping law at 54 locations, but two council members voted against it, noting that the city’s newly adopted street engagement framework process was not conducted.
“Why did we pass the street engagement framework if we weren’t going to stick to it?” Councilwoman Nithya Raman asked.
The law, which went into effect Sept. 3, prohibits sleeping, sitting, camping and obstructing the public right of way within 500 feet of “sensitive” facilities, including schools, day care facilities, parks and libraries.
It can be enforced once the 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 for the area.
Once a resolution passes, enforcement can also be conducted within:
— up to 500 feet of a designated overpass, underpass, freeway ramp, tunnel, bridge, pedestrian bridge, subway, wash or spreading ground, railroad track or where lodging unsheltered or in tents is unhealthy, unsafe and incompatible with safe passage; and
— 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.
Four resolutions were passed on Wednesday, enforcing the law in 26 locations in Councilman Bob Blumenfield’s District 3, 11 locations in Councilman Joe Buscaino’s District 15 and 17 locations in Councilman Paul Krekorian’s District 2.
On Sept. 14, the City Council approved a street engagement strategy that provides outreach teams to deploy to areas chosen for enforcement once a resolution is introduced. The teams will assess the encampments, determine how long engagement will take place, collaborate with city and county departments, as well as nonprofits, and connect encampment residents with services and interim and permanent housing placements.
Raman noted that according to the framework, once a resolution is introduced by a council member, the encampments are assessed, housing and shelter resources are identified, an outreach plan and time frame is developed and then outreach begins.
Under the framework, the resolution is not supposed to come before the City Council for a vote until a final after-action report is submitted regarding the housing and shelter efforts and data on the placements, which comes two weeks after a final cleanup of the location.
“I don’t doubt that there already has been outreach to many of the locations that are before us today … but we are asked today to vote on 54 locations between these four resolutions with no documentation for us or for the public that this step by step process that we just codified has been followed,” Raman said.
She added she doesn’t think it would be possible for the process to have been followed in the less-than-one-month since the resolutions were introduced on Sept. 21.
Councilman Mike Bonin said he would not vote for any enforcement of the law until the city has a “fully resourced and robust street engagement strategy.”
“There was an agreement about a street engagement strategy, about how things were going to go,” he said.
Blumenfield, whose resolution includes 17 locations that are along the 101 Freeway, said before the vote that only two of those locations currently have encampments.
“Every single person living on these underpasses have been offered housing multiple times,” Blumenfield said.
Blumenfield added that he spoke with outreach workers who went to all of the locations in his resolution, and they said that housing and shelter options had been offered to everyone.
The ordinance also prohibits sitting, sleeping, lying, storing personal property or otherwise obstructing the public right of way without a resolution’s passage 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.