Los Angeles city leaders approved a sweeping ordinance Wednesday that would restrict homeless encampments in certain areas as the issue continues to become a flashpoint in parts of the city overrun with tents, crime, trash and other quality of life issues.
The City Council voted 13-2 to endorse the measure, with Councilmembers Nithya Raman and Mike Bonin opposing. Mayor Eric Garcetti still needs to sign the ordinance for it to go into effect 30 days after.
The ordinance bans sleeping and camping in certain areas of the city and within 500 feet of schools, day care facilities, parks and libraries.
Outreach teams will offer shelter and service before any enforcement takes place. Enforcement will not occur until leaders have signed off on each location individually and outreach workers will return over a three-month period to see if homeless people return.
Additional outreach will be conducted if they do, which means it could take up to four months to relocate people and clear an encampment, the Los Angeles Times reported.
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Fox News has reached out to Garcetti’s office as well as the offices for Bonin and Raman. Both councilmembers are facing recall efforts over their handling of the homelessness crisis and crime in their districts.
“People want housing,” Bonin said during Wednesday’s meeting. “They do not want warehousing. They don’t want shelter. They want housing.”
He noted that the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority said several weeks that shelter beds were only available for 39% of the unhoused population in Los Angeles County.
In a statement released after the vote, Bonin elaborated on his dissenting vote.
“Being a city where tens of thousands of people sleep on the streets every night is sick and inhumane. Being a city where five people die on the streets every day is barbaric and is grossly obscene,” he said. “We are a city of encampments, and that is a shame and a disgrace.”
“Most simply put, I voted against this ordinance because it tells people who are unhoused and unsheltered and have no place to go where they cannot sleep,” he added. “It does nothing to tell them where they can sleep.”
In a Twitter post before the council vote, Raman stated her objections to the ordinance and why she planned to vote against it.
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“Because we set homelessness policy in our own districts, Councilmembers end up competing for scarce resources, implementing redundant services, and shuffling encampments from place to place,” she wrote. “Today’s ordinance will entrench that dysfunctional dynamic.”
Critics allege the measure will criminalize homelessness in a region grappling with a shortage of affordable housing.
“A bold and creative vision is needed to dramatically grow housing supply and fix systems that drive inflow into homelessness,” Amy Turk, the CEO for the Downtown Women’s Center, a women’s homeless service provider, said in a statement to FoxNews. “But implementing the ordinance restrictions without first providing clarity as to how we are engaging unhoused residents and where they can ultimately go only increases the odds of displacement and further traumatization.
Councilman Paul Koretz disagreed Wednesday, saying it instead “creates a new framework to keep portions of our public right-of-way accessible to everyone.”
In recent months, residents in some neighborhoods have voiced frustrations about encampments and the violent crime that often accompanies them. In Venice, tents are lined up along its famous boardwalk and have been seen on the beach, along with drugs and garbage.
Since the expansion of the tent city, there have been shootings, fires, assaults and complaints of harassment from residents and visitors. A recent video posted online shows a fire inside a tent erected on the boardwalk while another shows a naked man on the beach in broad daylight as joggers and bicyclists pass by.
Mary Ryavec, president of the Venice Stakeholders Association, told Fox News he was going to look and see what impact the ordinance has before celebrating.
“I’m not jumping up and down,” he said. “I’m encouraged that they finally had taken some action in the right direction but it’s all got to be implemented.”
Chie Lunn, a Venice resident who is suing the city over its response to the homelessness crisis, said drug rehabilitation and job training is also needed to give many of those living on the street a form of structure.
“I’m hopeful that it will incentivize more people living on the streets to take up the resources that they need when offered and those who are living on the street by choice to understand that this isn’t the place for it,” she told Fox News in a text message. “
Venice resident Deborah Keaton said she isn’t optimistic that the ordinance will have any impact on the large encampment just 20 feet from her home.
“They must be forced to move,” she told Fox News. “If this doesn’t force them to move to areas where they are not interfering with the residences, schools and businesses, what good will it do?”
Keaton said she lives about 20 feet from a large tent encampment where the homeless have tapped into nearby power lines to run their stereo systems and televisions late into the night.
“They party all night and the police are called everyday to cite them for disturbing the peace. But they are not going to go anywhere and this will not help that situation,” she said.
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Bonin, who represents Venice and other westside neighborhoods and was once on the verge of homelessness, and Raman, who has only been in office a few months and represents Hollywood and other areas, have pushed back against strong-handed proposals to clean up homeless encampments.
Last month, Bonin said he wanted to clear the Venice encampment by August. In a message to constituents on Monday, he said 160 unhoused people in Venice had been brought indoors and connected to permanent housing services.