Fence surrounding Echo Park Lake to be removed, LA council member says

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Friday, February 3, 2023
Fence surrounding Echo Park Lake to be removed, LA councilman says
L.A. City Councilman Hugo Soto-Martinez announced that a chain-link fence surrounding Echo Park Lake will be removed.

ECHO PARK, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Los Angeles City Councilman Hugo Soto-Martinez announced Thursday that a chain-link fence surrounding Echo Park Lake will be removed.

It's been nearly two years since 183 people living in encampments in the park were removed.

The park was closed for repairs and reopened with a chain-link fence still surrounding the iconic recreation area.

The removal effort on March 25, 2021 was met with large protests, in which hundreds of officers descended on Echo Park and arrested about 180 people, including journalists.

RELATED: Protesters, police face off at Echo Park Lake before clearing of homeless encampment

Hundreds of protesters gathered at Echo Park Lake Wednesday night in anticipation of the city clearing out the homeless encampment and closing the park.

"It remains a stain, a tainted legacy of the biggest homeless failure of the city of Los Angeles," Soto-Martinez said. "We cannot have that. If we're going to move forward and address the root causes of these issues, we have to take down the fence."

Soto-Martinez ran on removing the fence, and that's what he plans to do in the coming weeks.

While the fence has been up, encampments haven't returned to the park, although some exist right across the street.

Soto-Martinez said he's working on obtaining hotel vouchers for any unhoused people who try to relocate to the park.

"I am taking this issue extremely serious. We're forming a team, we're engaging folks, and I have my commitment that I am going to work the hardest to make sure that park works for everybody," Soto-Martinez said. "That it is a place that's safe and people will enjoy all the amenities that it has."

Nick Weiss, who exercises in Echo Park almost every day, says the fence bothers him.

"It's an eye sore. It makes it more difficult to get to the park, around the park," he said. "I think it makes it more dangerous to park on the street. People are running on the sidewalk; seems like a hazard."

"I think it takes away from the natural beauty of the park, so I fully support it coming down," said Echo Park resident Billy Stout.

Cheng Bradow runs around Echo Park Lake every day, and says she's not worried about the homeless encampments coming back, but prefers the fence for other reasons.

"It looks private. People feel secure walking here, exercising and for the pets, I think it's safer," she said.

City News Service contributed to this report.