Residents have started an online petition to stop the removal of the chain-link fence surrounding Echo Park.
Los Angeles City Councilmember Hugo Soto-Martinez has planned the fence’s removal after being up nearly two years after the city began repairs on the park.
“During the occupation of Echo Park by the unhoused who were allowed to languish there, the park was rendered unsafe and inaccessible to the general population, and the surrounding community had to put up with perpetual crime, fires, open air drug use, and other dangerous activity right at their doorstep,” The petition on Change.org said. “After the park was cleaned out and the fencing was erected, these conditions largely disappeared from the area, and the park was restored to its former beauty.”
At the time when the fence was put up in 2021, homeless advocates accused then-councilmember Mitchell O’Farrell of using the park renovations as an excuse to remove the homeless population. Altercations between protesters and LAPD later ensued, as construction workers made their way to the park after 10 p.m., in what activists called an attempt to put up the fence discreetly.
Several hundreds of homeless Angelenos were removed from the park and asked to move into designated housing facilities, with then-Mayor Eric Garcetti saying “100% of the people there have a room to sleep in.”
Councilman Soto-Martinez relayed an arbitrary goal to remove the fence before the two-year anniversary on March 25, however a concrete date was not established.
“As we said during the campaign last year, we plan to take down the fence and ensure the park is safe and welcoming for all residents,” Soto Martinez said in a Feb. 2 statement. “In addition to the fence, we’ve been working on a motion to improve even more access to the park… we’re beginning the process of implementing several improvements to make the park much more accessible for our neighbors with disabilities. When we say this park’s for everyone, we mean it.”
A community meeting scheduled for Saturday, March 18, at 3 p.m., where the fence’s future will be discussed at Echo Park United Methodist Church.
As of this writing, the petition has received 957 signatures with a goal of 1,000.
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