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City offers land, office space to Occupy Los Angeles

November 22, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Occupy Los Angeles demonstrators have an interesting offer on their hands. The city wants to give them office space and farmland, but on the condition that protesters move out from in front of City Hall, where they've been camped out for weeks.

Talks have reportedly been ongoing for two weeks. Los Angeles City Council members Eyewitness News spoke to say they haven't been involved in the talks. Only a member of the mayor's staff has been involved in the discussions. The discussion and terms are unofficial.

Fifty-three days and counting: City Hall grounds are still occupied by Occupy Los Angeles, and the demonstrators are still unchallenged by police and city leaders.

The only stir seen Tuesday was a rush for donated pizza.

"The violence across the country, frankly, have been images you've seen in other cities. Not in this city," said L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

L.A. leaders want to avoid the clashes that have battered other cities. Behind the scenes, city staff have been in talks with attorneys working with the demonstrators. The objective: To move out the protesters and move them in to productive action.

One incentive on the table is a 10,000-square-foot city-owned space in the L.A. City Mall across from City Hall for lease at a dollar a year, usable as office space for a service that benefits the city.

"It depends on what that service is, so if they are focused on perhaps job creation or something akin to that, that would be a good thing for Los Angeles," said L.A. City Councilman Richard Alarcon.

Other talking points include hotel vouchers for the homeless and 2 acres of land for a public garden.

"What we are trying to accomplish is a sustainable community and having some farmland that we could grow vegetables on would obviously help us move in that direction," said Occupy L.A. participant Clark Davis.

How far the talks will go is the question. The occupiers say no one is authorized to enter any negotiation for the encampment.

"Do we want to modify it and build on it, maybe change the nature of the physical occupation a little bit? These things have to be discussed," said Occupy L.A. participant Pete Thottam.

And city leaders may be divided too. The mayor says that leasing city property to the occupiers was not his idea.

As to whether the protesters would accept any offer to break up the camp, the answer Tuesday was "no."

"Being in tents is part of this message, it's occupying public space to draw attention to the inequities that exist in this country," said Davis. "No matter what this movement will continue to occupy public spaces."

Regarding that farmland, no council member Eyewitness News spoke to knew of any acreage in the city area that was available for a major garden.

That and any other issues was expected to be discussed Tuesday night. A meeting of the Occupy L.A. general assembly, all the members of the encampment, was also expected Tuesday night.

Tuesday evening, protesters marched to the Federal Reserve building in downtown Los Angeles to continue demonstrations. The LAPD was monitoring the group.

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