Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti recently signed into law an ordinance that criminalizes homelessness in most parts of the city, a motion that has drawn just as much fierce support by some as it has opposition by others.
The law specifies certain times and locations where it will be ‘unlawful for a person to sit, lie, or sleep, or to store, use, maintain, or place personal property in the public right-of-way’.
The ordinance, which will go into effect 30 days from last Thursday, makes it illegal to sit, lie, sleep, or set up encampments within 500 feet from ‘sensitive use’ properties, which include schools, parks, libraries, overpasses, underpasses, freeway ramps, tunnels, bridges, pedestrian bridges, subways, washes, spreading grounds and active railways.
The ordinance also makes it a crime to sit, lie, sleep, or set up encampments within 1,000 feet of or on a ‘street, sidewalk, or other public right-of-way’.
Individuals who violate the law will be issued a citation from the City’s Administrative Citation Enforcement Program.
However, individuals who refuse to comply or obstruct a city employee from enforcing the law will either face a misdemeanor charge, imprisonment for up to six months in the LA County jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000, as laid out in Section 11 of the Los Angeles Municipal Code.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti recently signed into law an ordinance that criminalizes homelessness in most parts of the city
The law specifies certain times and locations where it will be ‘unlawful for a person to sit, lie, or sleep, or to store, use, maintain, or place personal property in the public right-of-way,’ the ordinance reads
Garcetti and other proponents of the law say that its intentions are not to punish unhoused individuals, but to promote public safety and cleanliness.
‘The homeless crisis has reached epic proportions across the City of Los Angeles,’ the ordinance reads. ‘It is the obligation of the City to keep its public rights of way clean and available for public use, and to protect the public health, safety, and access by City constituents.’
Garcetti signed the law Thursday, following a 13-2 vote in favor by the Los Angeles City Council.
The following night, about 50 protesters rallied outside Garcetti’s house with some leaving protest placards on the sidewalk and others vandalizing the exterior with toilet paper and graffiti.
Police in riot gear responded to the protest and cleared the area, but no arrests were made, according to Fox News.
According to the Greater L.A. Homeless Count, there were 66,433 homeless people living on the streets of LA County in 2020, a 12.7 percent increase from the previous year.
The night after Garcetti signed the law, about 50 protesters rallied outside his house
Some left protest placards on the sidewalk and others vandalizing the exterior with toilet paper and graffiti
Police in riot gear responded to the protest and cleared the area, but no arrests were made
Over the last decade, Los Angeles County has seen the number of homeless double from about 40,000 to about 80,000, according to the Los Angeles County Homeless Count.
Mike Bonnin, one of two city council members who voted against the ordinance, said at Wednesday’s city council meeting, ‘There are far more people who want housing than we have sufficient resources for.
He added that the city only has enough shelter beds for 39percent of the unhoused population, but ‘What about the other 61%? Where can they go? Where can they sleep?’
Bonnin previously spoke out against the motion and gave a personal anecdote about his experience with homelessness, as reported by Spectrum News.
‘Some of those nights I slept in the car, some of those nights, when my car was in the shop, I slept on the beach,’ he said.
‘I cannot tell you how much turmoil is in your heart when the sun is setting and you don’t know where to sleep. I cannot tell you how demoralizing and dehumanizing and defeating that experience is when you don’t know where you’re going to sleep.
‘That’s what it comes down to for me … where can people go, where can people sleep when they do not have an alternative.’
Ricci Sergienco, of the LA People’s City Council, spoke at Wednesday’s meeting against the ordinance and said that it’s ‘basically saying that poor people just existing will be criminalized’.
He added, ‘This law unfairly paints unhoused people as a threat to children and the public. The lack of appropriate housing is the real threat to public safety.
‘I’ve been down on the Venice boardwalk in the middle of the night for the past month or so and the cops are moving people from 2 to 5am. How the city is handling the homelessness crisis is not appropriate. And if you all think that you’re all doing a good job, you should take a long look in the mirror.’
Many took to Twitter to express their dissent for the new law. Yoonj Kim, an MTV News correspondent, tweeted, ‘So instead of responsible policy reform around affordable housing, zoning, or even rent control, Los Angeles—the epicenter of the housing crisis—has officially criminalized the act of sitting and sleeping outside. Context by @ananyaUCLA @BryantOdegaLA’
A left-leaning podcaster called Lefty-Desiree McLefty Face, Milkshake Whisperer, tweeted, ‘The City Council in Los Angeles is pretty much outlawing homeless instead of addressing the very real structural issues that cause it. Minimum wage should be around 30 an hour for starters. Tonight protesters will be heading to Garcetti’s house to press the issue.’
But some residents were just as passionate about their support for the law. Sulman Mancus, who’s on the board of a local condominium association, spoke in favor of the motion and said that when it comes to seeing dozens of homeless people camped on public streets, ‘we all feel our hands our tied to do anything about it.’
‘Children are feeling unsafe, people are feeling unsafe in my building to walk around the neighborhood,’ he added. ‘Previous speakers do not speak for most Angelenos. We are a compassionate city, the city council members are compassionate as well, but there has to be a balance between a full heart for people that do not have homes and also a full heart for our community and our sense of neighborhood and safety.’
Councilman Paul Krekorian, who voted in favor of the law, told The Independent earlier this month that the law does not make it illegal to be homeless. ‘It does not make any conduct that is fundamental to being human illegal,’ he said.
‘What it does do is it guarantees that we will reestablish passable sidewalks. It protects the users of our public infrastructure and the unhoused residents of our city from being put into positions of interaction with automobiles, around loading docks, driveways and so forth. It guarantees access to our fire hydrants, entrances to buildings.’
A statement the mayor’s office sent to The Independent describes the city’s attempt to find a balance between public safety and the homeless crisis.
It reads, ‘We don’t need to choose between keeping our public spaces clean and safe, and connecting Angelenos experiencing homelessness with the housing and services they so desperately need.
‘We can and will do both, and I support the council action because it will help achieve that goal in a way that is humane, compassionate, and responsive to the urgent needs in our communities.’
Meanwhile, the morning Garcetti signed the law, authorities cleared dozens of homeless encampments dotting Venice Beach
The homeless encampments have become a virtual tent city with violent crime and rampant drug use, pushing tourists and families out
City workers began the process of tearing down homeless camps along Venice Beach ahead of the July 4 weekend this year
Meanwhile, the morning Garcetti signed the law, authorities cleared dozens of homeless encampments dotting Venice Beach and, starting last Friday, camping is no longer be permitted in the area.
The homeless encampments have become a virtual tent city with violent crime and rampant drug use, pushing tourists and families out. City workers began the process of tearing down homeless camps along Venice Beach ahead of the July 4 weekend this year.
The move followed the discovery of a dead homeless man in his tent on the boardwalk, according to Fox News. And another homeless man was arrested in connection with the killing.
Fox News reported that Venice had a 132 percent increase in assaults in which a homeless person was a suspect in 2021 and a 126 percent increase in cases in which a homeless person was a victim as of the end of May.
Meanwhile, robberies in which a homeless person was the victim increased by 1,100 percent while robberies in which homeless person was a suspect increased by 160 percent.
Felony arrests have increased by 81 percent so far this year, the outlet reported.