Planters, other obstacles being used to block homeless camps in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- They may look like planters but the string of bright red plant-holding containers along Hope Street would more accurately be called homeless encampment prevention devices.

They are springing up all across the Los Angeles area, installed on sidewalks by business owners to limit the amount of space available for the homeless to set up tents or other shelters around their buildings.

"If the police can't cope with this, if the city can't cope with it, then the city needs to empower its business people and its residents to cope with it," said Mark Ryavec with the Venice Stakeholders Association.

MORE: New state budget gives L.A. millions to fight homelessness, while Garcetti says city needs more

Ryavec has been helping business owners and residents install the obstacles, citing them as a way to keep sidewalks clear and safe.

But the problem is, in most cases the obstacles are not legal. In fact one South Los Angeles business installed a chain-link fence down the middle of the sidewalk surrounding its buildings.

Mayor Eric Garcetti calls the obstacles short sighted.

"Long term, those aren't going to be solutions," Garcetti told Eyewitness News. "That's just going to push it to the next block where another neighbor is saying 'Wait a second, why is it my problem now?''"

MORE: L.A. homeless crisis - City crews clean up packed street near Grand Park

But Ryavec says the city needs to make it easier for people to obtain permits for the obstacles, especially since the city is not keeping people from camping on the sidewalks.

"It's not their land," Ryavec said of city. "It's the owners' land. The city just has an easement for passage and they're violating their easement for passage by allowing encampments on it."

But Garcetti does not support the idea, instead sticking with his plan to dramatically increase housing. He says nearly 2,000 temporary beds will be available by the end of the year with thousands more on the way in the near future.
Copyright © 2019 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.