LA approves citywide ban on homeless encampments

City Council measure limited to areas near libraries, parks, other public spaces

A homeless encampment under the 101 Freeway (Getty)
A homeless encampment under the 101 Freeway (Getty)

The Los Angeles City Council has approved a controversial citywide ban on homeless encampments near parks, libraries and other public spaces.

Mayor Eric Garcetti is expected to sign the ordinance, according to the Los Angeles Times, which first reported on its passage.

The measure is intended to clear those sites of homeless people, and was seen as a compromise between political factions split over how to address the city’s deepening homelessness crisis.

Councilmember Joe Busciano — who is running for mayor — proposed the first version of the anti-camping ordinance last year, but some colleagues saw it as too broad. It sat in a committee until Busciano and Councilmember John Lee effectively forced the full Council to vote on the proposal before the summer break.

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That version allowed police to clear an area as long as anyone occupying the space was offered shelter first.

A handful of other councilmembers amended the ordinance with provisions meant to soften enforcement.

The ordinance going to the mayor requires the Council approve clearing any individual sites. Once that happens, city workers must give people 14 days notice before enforcement.

Outreach teams — to include social workers and mental health specialists — would be the first on the scene and offer anyone shelter and other services. Those teams would revisit cleared sites over several months to contact anyone who returned.

[LAT] — Dennis Lynch