LA City Council moves on 54 homeless encampments around city

Sets first enforcement action since contentious measure passed over summer

Skid Row at Los Angeles (Getty Images)
Skid Row at Los Angeles (Getty Images)

The Los Angeles City Council this week approved sweeps of 54 homeless camps across the city, calling for action four months after it approved a ban that applies to certain public spaces.

The 15-member body voted to take the action under laws that were passed in July, according to the L.A. Times. Councilmembers Nithya Raman and Mike Bonin cast the only votes against the sweeps.

The laws were passed over the summer to restrict sitting and sleeping near building entrances, libraries, elementary schools, and a handful of other locations.

The city will post anti-camping signs at the 54 approved locations –– fewer than half the number considered for sweeps. City officials said it might take a substantial amount of time to put up the signs because the city is short on staff and material.

For two weeks after the signs go up, outreach teams will engage with people staying at those sites with the goal of providing aid and getting them into city programs that can lead to housing. After that period, police will be authorized to clear the sites.

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Some councilmembers urged a delay to allow the city time to build up more resources for outreach and providing aid.

“I am certain that a lot of work has been done, but it still isn’t to the level of what we committed to as a body,” Bonin said.

The city council has sought to address the issue of camping on sidewalks and public property since a 2018 federal court ruling effectively ordered it to do so. Officials failed to build consensus as homelessness grew into a public health crisis on city streets.

The measure to allow regulated sweeps ultimately passed this summer after councilmembers Joe Busciano and John Lee effectively forced a vote on the measure before the summer break. Busciano is running for mayor next year.

Proponents of the measure say it gives time to clear sites before the police get involved and say that it will reclaim such spaces for other residents of the city. [LAT] — Dennis Lynch