Mayor Eric Garcetti to block enforcement of homeless encampment measure

Items from a homeless encampment are seen in this undated file photo taken in downtown Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Tuesday that he will delay enforcement of a recently approved city ordinance making it easier to dismantle homeless encampments until changes are made.

"I strongly support the enactment of laws that enable the City to ensure that its public areas are clean and safe. However, the City must balance the need to maintain its sidewalks with the rights of the people who have no other choice but to live on them," he said in a statement.

The Los Angeles City Council approved the measure last week, giving city crews the ability to remove large items from city sidewalks as long as owners are given 24-hour notice. Items must also be stored for 90 days.

City Councilman Jose Huizar, who represents downtown Los Angeles, which includes the largest concentration of homeless people in the city, supported the measure.

"This is really an effort by the council and the city to get a handle on the number of encampments that have sprouted up throughout the city," Huizar told Eyewitness News last week.

Many activists, however, felt that the new law would criminalize the homeless population for being poor.

Garcetti pointed to the need for changes to the ordinance that would allow for "smarter law enforcement, more compassionate treatment of homeless Angelenos, and strengthen the City's ability to withstand legal challenge."

He returned the ordinance to the city council without his signature and is ordering all city departments to continue using exiting protocols for removing personal property.

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