LA City Council bans 54 homeless encampments

LA City Council bans 54 homeless encampments
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The Los Angeles City Council banned homeless encampments at 54 different locations on Wednesday in a near-unanimous vote.

The council voted 12-2 to outlaw sitting, sleeping and lying at the locations across three districts in the city, the Los Angeles Times reported. The measure, which also prohibits camping within 500 feet of schools, day care facilities, parks and libraries, was issued under a new law passed in July, marking the first time it has been used.

The council also requested an expansion of outreach resources for homeless people in these locations. They called for the city's departments to create new procedures that would ensure people are not forced to move without notice. 

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To enforce this measure, signs will be placed at the respective locations. After the signs are posted there will be a 14-day period during which “outreach teams will continue to engage anyone remaining on the site." The Times noted that the total cost of posting the signs could run close to $2 million.

The 54 locations that were approved by the council account for less than half of those currently being considered, the Times reported.

Homelessness in Los Angeles has worsened during the pandemic, with job losses contributing to the growing homeless population in the U.S.'s second largest city.

When the measure to potentially shut down sites was being considered during the summer, hundreds of community members protested, saying it criminalized homelessness.

“We know what the ordinance says,” LA Community Action Network spokesperson George Herod said during a protest in July, according to Spectrum News. "It’s just another attack that will criminalize the homeless population.”

City Council member Paul Krekorian defended the measure at the time, shooting back at this characterization.

“It does not make any conduct that is fundamental to being human illegal. What it does do is it guarantees that we will reestablish passable sidewalks. It protects the users of our public infrastructure and the unhoused residents of our city from being put into positions of interaction with automobiles, around loading docks, driveways and so forth. It guarantees access to our fire hydrants, entrances to buildings," said Krekorian.