LA to Enforce Homeless Encampment Bans in Parks, Elementary School in District 12

By Micaela Ricaforte
Micaela Ricaforte
Micaela Ricaforte
November 30, 2021 Updated: December 2, 2021

LOS ANGELES—The Los Angeles City Council passed a motion on Nov. 30 to enforce the ban on homeless encampments in seven locations of District 12 amid the city’s growing homeless population.

An ordinance passed earlier this year banned homeless encampments in the public right-of-way; however, a city council vote is required before the ban can be enforced.

Introduced by Councilman John Lee of District 12 and seconded by District 15’s Councilman Joe Buscaino, the motion was passed 10–2, with dissent from Councilmembers Nithya Raman and Mike Bonin.

The motion prohibits “sitting, lying, sleeping, or storing, using, maintaining, or placing personal property” within 500 feet of the parks on Chatsworth Street, Rinaldi Street, Vanowen Street, Reseda Boulevard, and Nordhoff Street—as well as Chatsworth Branch Library and Dearborn Elementary Charter Academy in District 12.

Buscaino’s own motions to enforce the ban in his district’s 161 locations—more than 100 of which are schools and daycare centers, and dozens are parks and libraries—will be voted on Dec. 1.

Some Angelenos expressed their opposition to the ban, criticizing Buscaino and Lee’s handling of homelessness.

“This is a really, really cruel way of enforcing encampment [bans],” Olga Lexell, a resident in the South Robertson neighborhood, commented during the council meeting.

Lexell went on to criticize the council’s lack of outreach in the communities that would be impacted by the ban.

“It’s been shocking, as somebody with experience working with the unhoused population, to see people on the city council with zero experience in social services or in working with these groups, who don’t even come out to the park, who don’t even know what outreach looks like, advocating for these punitive measures that do nothing but displace people and disconnect people from their case workers,” Lexell said.

Lou Caravella, president of Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council, told The Epoch Times in an email that anything besides affordable housing construction was “just for show.”

“The only solution to homelessness is building affordable housing,” Caravella said. “Sweeps of homeless encampments are temporary and almost entirely cosmetic. We must build low-income housing and end the cycle of pay-for-play that rewards LA City Council for gifting permits to donor-developers for overpriced housing.”

Some residents in support of the enforcement said the bans are about protecting public spaces and single-family homes.

Speaking only as an individual resident in Northridge, Glenn Bailey, who is also the president of the city’s East Neighborhood Council, said three of the locations listed on Lee’s motion fell into his neighborhood council district’s boundaries.

“These three locations are surrounded on three or more sides by single-family residences or townhomes and condos,” Bailey told The Epoch Times. “The prohibition of encampments in the public right-of-way adjoining these public facilities is especially appropriate.”

This comes amid a growing homeless population in the city.

Los Angeles city had more than 41,000 homeless people in 2020—a 16.1 percent increase from 2019—according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.

Earlier this month, Buscaino, who is also running for mayor, introduced a citywide motion that would ban homeless people from camping in public spaces if enough shelter was available and had been offered. If passed, the measure would be placed on the upcoming 2022 ballot.

However, the council voted 11–2 on Nov. 23 to send the measure to the council’s Homelessness and Poverty Committee, where the fate of the measure will be decided in the next several months.

Michael Trujillo, a spokesperson for Buscaino’s campaign, said on Nov. 23 that they plan to collect signatures for the measure starting in January.

Buscaino criticized the council’s move to send the measure to the committee.

“Here’s what I’m hearing,” Buscaino said Nov. 23. “Process, process, vetting, let’s send this to committee. Let’s get a report back in 90 days. Let’s create a task force while people are dying in our streets.”

Correction: A previous version of this article indicated the 2021 point-in-time homeless count will be made available. There will not be any 2021 data, as the homeless count in Los Angeles was canceled, due to the CCP virus pandemic.  The Epoch Times regrets the error.