Los Angeles City Council weighing restrictions on homeless encampments

Wednesday, June 30, 2021
Is anti-camping ordinance the answer to growing homeless crisis in LA?
One potential solution to the homeless crisis that is now getting a lot of attention is a push for an anti-camping ordinance in Los Angeles.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The city of Los Angeles is closer than ever to passing an ordinance that would restrict the homeless from camping in certain public places and make sure sidewalks are passable.

"Violent and property crime have increased in neighborhoods surrounding these dangerous encampments, and yet we continue to delay action on this common-sense ordinance while the city literally burns around us," said Los Angeles City Councilmember Joe Buscaino.

"This is not compassionate or progressive, it's reckless. In fact, some of the most progressive cities in the state of California have a form of anti-camping ordinance."

Buscaino, who is running for mayor next year, proposed the ordinance nine months ago. As the council considers an amendment this Thursday, the overwhelming sentiment from the council members is that they want to address where encampments can exist without criminalizing homelessness.

Councilmembers Mike Bonin and Nithya Raman voted against moving the ordinance forward.

"I do think that there are real questions in here and to Councilmember Bonin's point, which areas of the city are impacted," Raman said. "How much of these areas are impacted by these codes. This is law that impacts every resident of the city and right now I feel like i'm making a decision on this law without the information I need to understand the impacts of this law."

"It does not make it a crime to be homeless," Buscaino said. "It does not punish people who have nowhere to go."

"It does not mean the city is prioritizing enforcement over housing services. It simply asks our unhoused residents to abide by some basic rules so that we can better share our public spaces throughout the city. Don't block the sidewalk, don't block doors or driveways, don't pitch a tent right outside a homeless shelter and if you have the ability to sleep indoors, you must do so."

Similar anti-camping laws already exist in a number of cities, including San Francisco, Santa Monica and Long Beach.

Some residents say simply clearing the unhoused from sidewalks doesn't help solve the ultimate problem.

"Seems to me the best possible solution would be to have some unused space somewhere - a field, a big parking lot - where people could camp and where there could be facilities," Hollywood resident Jon Hofferman said.

Many frustrated residents say the crime and trash created by the encampments is getting out of hand and are wondering what it will take for the city to finally take action.

"It's getting out of control. They're literally building houses and forts that rival studios around here," Van Simpson of Hollywood said.