Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti signed an ordinance that would ban homeless encampments in several public areas, with the law going into effect in 30 days.
Encampments will not be allowed within 500 feet of schools, parks, bridges, overpasses, libraries and homeless shelters. The ordinance will also restricts people from sleeping in these areas, as well as sidewalks and bike lines that would stop the flow of traffic.
L.A. City council voted 13-2 in favor of the ordinance Wednesday, with Nithya Raman and Mike Bonin being the two council members voting against it.
“People want housing, they do not want warehousing, they don’t want shelter,” Bonin said Wednesday. “LAHSA (Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority) said… we have shelter beds for 39% of the unsheltered population in Los Angeles County. What about the other 61%? Where can they go? Where can they sleep?”
Protesters rallied against the ordinance in downtown L.A., holding signs that read “Services, not sweeps,” and “Poverty is not a crime.”
As Garcetti signed the ordinance into law Thursday, advocate for the unhoused, Kenneth Mejia said the mayor and council, “criminalized being homeless.”
“I never understood how fining people who have no money or threatening them with arrest will help their situation,” Mejia said. “How will they pay for these fines? Where will they go if they’re not sure where they can sleep or rest?”
The majority of the council supported the order, saying it was necessary as encampments and people occupying the sidewalks interfere with the American Disabilities Act.
“If we all agree that the status quo is unsustainable, that street encampments are dangerous to both the housed and unhoused, why would we continue to allow them anywhere, if an alternative exists, like in my district today,” Councilman Joe Buscaino said while addressing the ordinance Wednesday. “It’s an improvement from what we have today.”
When asked about the homeless in Los Angeles, council president Nury Martinez spoke against encampments, saying more shelters must be built.
“We cannot normalize people living in encampments,” Martinez said. “We’ve got to encourage the building of homeless shelters, housing has to be the priority… getting people off the street as soon as possible needs to be the mandate of the day. Encouraging people to remain on the street and normalizing this way of living and allowing people to die is not something that I will ever accept.”