Los Angeles City Council votes 13-1 to allow homeless to keep some belongings

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The Los Angeles City Council has tentatively approved an ordinance that would allow a homeless person to keep some possessions on city streets. (KABC)

The Los Angeles City Council has tentatively approved revisions to a law that prohibits the storage of property in public areas such as sidewalks, making it so that transients can keep 60 gallons worth of belongings.

The city council voted 13-1 on Wednesday to sign off on amendments to a city law that prohibited tents and other living space to be set up between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. The law also did not allow any storage of personal property in public areas.

"This ordinance that was passed today allows these individuals to sleep on the sidewalk between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. and allows them to have limited property. We feel that you shouldn't have to have six shopping carts worth of property, and that's where we're getting a lot of the concerns and complaints from residents and businesses," Councilman Joe Buscaino said.

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Homeless advocates sounded off in outrage following the vote.

"It got a little rowdy today in the L.A. City Council chambers because it's such a passionate issue," Buscaino said.

City officials say the ordinance allows the homeless to keep enough items that can easily fit into a recycle bin and that can be readily moved when it's time to pack up and leave during the day.

"To me, they legally took a vote, and they demoralized and disrespected each and every homeless person in the city by saying that they can only have possessions inside of a trash can," said General Jeff, a homeless advocate who was formerly homeless.

The city has come under fire after conducting several sweeps to remove homeless encampments.

Last month, police conducted a sweep on Spring Street to remove items from the sidewalk, cleaning up the streets and confiscating items. Opponents argue that taking away property on the street violates a homeless person's constitutional rights.

The version approved by the council included last-minute revisions removing stricter rules that specified if there was available storage within a two-mile radius, then homeless individuals could be prevent from keeping 60 gallons of personal property. The radius is now no longer specified.

Because the vote was not unanimous, the ordinance will return for a second and final vote on April 6.

Councilman Gil Cedillo voted against the revisions, arguing that there was no need to adopt such a law because there are other laws that could address concerns raised today by homeowners and others about criminal activity, obstruction of accessibility in public areas and unsanitary conditions associated with homeless encampments.

City News Service contributed to this report.
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