Despite LA ordinance banning homeless encampments near schools, some are still there

Josh Haskell Image
Thursday, December 8, 2022
Despite ordinance ban, homeless encampment still near Koreatown school
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Ordinance 41.18 bans homeless encampments from being within 500 feet of schools, but it is only being enforced in certain areas.

KOREATOWN, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Large homeless encampments throughout Los Angeles are near schools but according to the city's no camping law, that shouldn't be the case.

Homeless encampments in L.A. aren't supposed to be within 500 feet of schools, according to city ordinance 41.18. But it isn't being enforced in every council district - only in certain areas.

In Koreatown, there is a large homeless encampment that shares a wall with Virgil Middle School.

"In third PE, I saw a fire over there," said Briana Hernandez, a seventh-grader at the school.

A series of cooking fires occurred last month at the encampment located at North Juanita Avenue and Beverly Boulevard. There have also been other complaints.

"I would see them walk by the school. I would see them try and go into the school and ask for money. We just ignore them," Hernandez said. "It's kind of disrupting for them to ask for money. They should not be on school property because we need to focus on education."

LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho supports 41.18, and told Eyewitness News that the district is constantly providing information to the city about encampments that violate the ordinance.

"There is certainly a problem with enforcement. We are collaborating with law enforcement entities and the city, but more needs to be done. Our schools are the safest places. Our concern is the passage from school to home and from home to school," Carvalho said.

Carvalho says that he has incredible compassion and empathy for the struggle of those who are unhoused. But, from a health and mental well-being perspective, he says that they have to stand in defense for the children.

The Virgil Middle School encampment is in District 13, Mitch O'Farrell's district.

O'Farrell's office said in a statement: "We have been heavily focused on outreach and compliance at all of our 41.18 sites. This approach has been successful at a number of places where people experiencing homelessness have been placed into transitional housing options that councilmember O'Farrell has opened. Services and outreach will continue at the Virgil Middle School location, at least through the brief time remaining in our term."

O'Farrell supports 41.18, but for whatever reason, the Koreatown encampment hasn't been cleared.

Hugo Soto-Martinez takes over District 13 next week and said if there's enough support, he would vote to repeal the ordinance.