Los Angeles City Council postpones final vote to ban homeless camps near schools and daycares

LOS ANGELES (CNS) — The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday delayed until next week a final vote on an ordinance that would ban homeless encampments within 500 feet of schools and daycares.

The council voted 10-1 in favor of the regulation earlier this month, with councilor Mike Bonin dissenting. Since the vote was not unanimous, a second vote is required. The issue was on Wednesday’s agenda – the council’s first meeting since its summer break – but the vote was pushed back to next Tuesday.

Though the vote was delayed, several members of the public spoke out against the proposed regulation on Wednesday, and homeless advocates gathered outside City Hall to protest ahead of the meeting.

The ordinance is an amendment to the city’s comprehensive law governing the location of homeless camps. Municipal Code 41.18 prohibits sitting, sleeping, lying down or otherwise blocking the public path in several areas of the city.

These areas include within 2 feet of any fire hydrant or fire plug; within 5 feet of any operational or usable entrance or exit; within 10 feet of a loading dock or driveway; in a way that interferes with activities authorized by the City or restricts accessible passage under the Americans with Disabilities Act; or anywhere within a street, including bike lanes.

The law already protects public right-of-way within 500 feet of “sensitive” facilities like schools, daycares, parks and libraries – but only if each specific location is designated by the council for enforcement.

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The amendment, tentatively approved on July 1 and previously approved by the council’s Homelessness and Poverty Committee, is a blanket ban on encampments within 500 feet of all schools.

Councilor Joe Buscaino last year proposed the idea of ​​a camp ban near schools, but it never caught on. The issue was revived earlier this year, in part due to the urging of Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, who said teachers, principals and parents had raised concerns about homeless camps near campus.

“I have seen elementary schools with conditions that none of us as parents would find acceptable for children. People with mental illnesses, some of them completely undressed, shouting profanities into children’s hearing ears,” Carvalho previously told the council.

Buscaino, who sits on the Homelessness and Poverty Committee, said approving the amendment will “ensure the most sacred places among us, our playgrounds and schools, are safe.”

City ordinances already in place also prohibit camping and sleeping in:

— up to 500 feet from a designated overpass, underpass, freeway ramp, tunnel, bridge, footbridge, subway, washing or gritting area, railroad track, or where sheltered or tented accommodation is unhealthy, unsafe and is inconsistent with safe passage; and

— up to 1,000 feet from any facility opened after January 1, 2018 that provides shelter, safe sleep, secure parking, or navigation centers to those affected by homelessness.

The ordinance also allows the city to prevent camps for a period not exceeding one year in areas deemed to pose ongoing threats to public health or safety due to, among other things:

— Death or serious injury to any person at the site due to a hazardous condition;

— repeated serious or violent crime or threat of serious or violent crime, including human trafficking; and

— Fires at the site.

Persons violating the ordinance will face a violation or a subpoena, but “a person who willfully resists, prevents a city employee from enforcing this section, or who willfully refuses to comply after being warned by was asked to do so by an authorized city employee”, can expect higher fines and administrative offenses according to the regulation.

Copyright 2022, City News Service, Inc.

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https://abc7.com/homeless-city-council-los-angeles-schools/12078859/ Los Angeles City Council postpones final vote to ban homeless camps near schools and daycares

Laura Coffey

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