A sweeping ordinance that bans sleeping and homeless encampments in certain parts of Los Angeles went into effect Friday, the latest strategy employed by officials in an effort to get a handle on the number of unhoused people in the region.
The measure, which modifies the city’s anti-camping law, was approved by the City Council in July. It bans the storing of property and obstructing the public right-of-way, among other rules.
It will also prohibit sleeping and camping in certain areas within 500 feet of property deemed as “sensitive use,” which includes schools, day care facilities, public parks and libraries, once the council passes a resolution naming an area for enforcement, posting signage and giving notice.
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Those areas also include up to 500 feet of a designated overpass, underpass, the subway and 1,000 feet of a facility that opened after Jan. 1, 2018 that provides shelter, safe sleeping, safe parking or navigation centers for homeless persons.
In a joint statement, Mayor Eric Garcetti and council President Nury Martinez said enforcement outside obstructions to the Americans with Disability Act and other accessibility obstructions won’t begin until outreach to the homeless has occurred, to include connecting them with services and housing.
“We don’t need to choose between keeping our public spaces safe and clean, and connecting Angelenos experiencing homelessness with the services and housing they need,” they said. “We can and will do both, as we respond to this crisis in a way that is compassionate and responsive to the urgent needs in our communities.”
Opponents argue the ordinance essentially criminalizes homelessness. Supporters say it will help get the homeless vital services while combating quality of life issues that have angered residents and businesses owners in some communities.
The City Council’s Homelessness and Poverty Committee and its Energy Climate Change, Environmental Justice and River Committee advanced a motion to approve recommendations for a Street Engagement Strategy to accompany the ordinance, City News Service reported.
The full City Council has not yet voted on the motion.
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“We will only be able to provide the housing and services that are needed if trusted and skilled outreach workers are able to effectively engage — and this strategy is the roadmap to do it, and do it well,” Councilman Mark Ridley Thomas, who chairs the Homelessness and Poverty Committee, said Thursday. “The full City Council should act swiftly to adopt the Street Engagement Strategy, as time is of the essence.”