In a 13-2 vote, the L.A. City Council approved an ordinance that would ban encampments near schools, parks, bridges, overpasses and homeless shelters.
Part of the order states it would ban any person from sleeping, sitting, lying, placing or storing personal property in the “public right-of-way,” or block sidewalks in a way that would interfere with the Americans Disability 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.”
Protesters rallied against the ordinance in downtown L.A., holding signs that read “Services, not sweeps,” and “Poverty is not a crime.”
“Despite powerful testimony from unhoused activists and an outpouring of support outside City Hall, 13 out of 15 city councilmembers let us down,” advocate for the unhoused, Kenneth Mejia said Wednesday. “They chose to disregard the trauma and suffering that criminalization will bear on the most vulnerable.”
The two council members who voted against the ordinance were Mike Bonin, who represents the 11th district of L.A. and Nithya Raman, who represents District 4.
“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?”
Mayor Eric Garcetti now has 10 days to respond and or sign the order.