After protesters' disruption, LA council votes to crack down on homeless encampments near schools

Christiane Cordero Image
Wednesday, August 3, 2022 4:52PM
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The Los Angeles City Council voted to ban homeless encampments within 500 feet of schools and daycare centers, following an hourlong disruption by opponents who interrupted the meeting.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A Los Angeles City Council vote that ultimately took less than 10 seconds to tally on Tuesday was preceded by nearly three hours in anticipation.

Council members were slated to vote to amend section 41.18, by making it illegal for people to sleep or stay on public sidewalks 500 feet from a school or a day care center.

The council heard from several people during public comments. Among those to speak was a woman who goes by Dr. Kridikel Turth Bey, and finds the measure understandable. She also finds it unsustainable.

"They're putting a Band-Aid, criminalizing homelessness when they never really engage with the homeless to begin with," said Bey.

Councilman Mike Bonin had opposed the amendment, saying the issue before his colleagues was whether they merely want to manage where homelessness is allowed.

"Or whether we're going to put our time, our energy and our attention into ending homeless encampments by moving people indoors," said Bonin.

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Councilman Joe Buscaino's time on the podium was cut off by the echoes of protesters. The council members left, but determined to return to the job, which they did, an hour later, after police officers cleared the room.

The final vote: 11-3. It passed.

Council President Nury Martinez takes the accusation of criminalizing homelessness seriously, as she's adamant she's helping create more housing, too.

When asked why the efforts don't resonate with everyone, Martinez said, "Because it's so overwhelming, and so much of what you see is a mental health crisis."

For her and the majority of council members, Tuesday's vote was simple, even if the issue is not.

"The least I can do as a representative is to clear the public right of way, make it safe again so that people can just walk along the sidewalks and take back the public space," said Martinez.

The Los Angeles Unified School District had a representative speaking during public comment. She was the only person to do so in favor.