Councilman Mitch O'Farrell seeks report on Echo Park Lake's conditions before closure

LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- Los Angeles Councilman Mitch O'Farrell, who arranged for the closure of Echo Park Lake last month after a large homeless encampment developed during the COVID-19 pandemic, on Tuesday introduced two motions to the City Council to authorize reports on the conditions in the park before the closure.

O'Farrell's office said on March 22 that the city was planning to close the park and clear out its residents to perform more than $500,000 in repairs and restoration caused by homeless people at the park.

The move was met with large protests to protect the park's approximately 200 residents from displacement. Neighbors had complained about the trash at the encampment and said they no longer felt safe at the park, and O'Farrell and Mayor Eric Garcetti said the site had become dangerous, with drug overdoses and four deaths taking place there.

But advocates for the homeless described the encampment as a safe haven for people with no other housing options. They also questioned what would happen to the homeless once their temporary stays at hotel rooms ended.

"For over a year, my office has diligently worked to respond to the myriad challenges at Echo Park Lake -- the lack of adequate shelter or services for the unhoused population; the dangers to public safety found throughout the park; and the growing list of repairs necessitated by the park's deteriorating conditions,'' O'Farrell said in a statement Tuesday.

Echo Park Lake: Homeless advocates rally outside City Hall, decrying removal of encampments
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Advocates for the homeless rallied outside of Los Angeles City Hall, where they decried the clearing of encampments at Echo Park Lake last week.

O'Farrell's first motion introduced Tuesday would instruct the Department of Recreation and Parks and Los Angeles Sanitation and Environment to draft a report on damages and the estimated cost of their repairs in the park, "including rehabilitation efforts of natural habitat within the shoreline, and a full accounting of personal property now being stored for individuals formerly encamped within the park, and a description of items voluntarily discarded on their behalf.''
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