Homelessness advocates removed from LA City Council chamber after raucous protest

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Homelessness advocates were sent packing from the Los Angeles City Council chambers Tuesday after a raucous protest during a council meeting.

After more than a dozen people took part in a public comment session about L.A.'s proposed update to its half-century-old vagrancy ordinance, municipal code 41.18, several people in the crowd began chanting over Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell's presentation.

Los Angeles Police Department officers eventually escorted a small group of the protesters out of the chamber after 10 minutes.

L.A.'s current ordinance bans any sitting, lying or sleeping in streets, on sidewalks or other public ways. A federal court has deemed similar laws to be unconstitutional, and for the most part, LAPD has not enforced the ordinance in the past 10 years.

City attorneys say there is room to pass a less sweeping vagrancy law.

"The city can still enforce regulations on when and where people can dwell in the public right of way even if they can't ban it entirely," said Valerie Flores, a deputy city attorney for Los Angeles.

O'Farrell's plan would allow sitting, lying or sleeping in streets and sidewalks, but ban it in certain spots including near schools and business entryways, and in driveways and parks.

Homeless advocates say that proposal is still way too broad.

"Unhoused residents will be prohibited from existing in the majority of the city," said Louise Abramson of the Central Hollywood Neighborhood Council. "This is effectively a banishment."

Several council members slammed O'Farrell's plan, but O'Farrell says that criticism doesn't carry much weight unless those members come up with other possible solutions.

"I heard some of my colleagues wax poetic quite beautifully, but let's see what proposals actually come forward so that we can fulfill our responsibilities as city leaders," O'Farrell told Eyewitness News.
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