(Editor’s note: This story, published on November 2 in the Westside Current, is reprinted with permission.)
The Los Angeles City Council today [Tuesday] approved spending $2 million from its homeless services fund for the printing and installation of signage to enforce a new law prohibiting people from sleeping and camping on sidewalks and in parks.
Councilman Mike Bonin and Councilwoman Nithya Raman cast the two dissenting votes to fund the signage, as they did for the original ordinance and all resolutions requesting enforcement.
“Colleagues, when I first heard that the City Council was going to spend $2 million out of homelessness funds for signs to say `you can’t sit, sleep or lie here,’ I actually didn’t think it was serious. I thought that someone was parodying the Council or somebody was spreading a mistruth to make the Council look bad,” Bonin said. “I’m wondering how many temporary housing vouchers, motel vouchers, $1 million or $2 million could get you so that people can have a safe place to stay while they’re waiting for an emergency housing voucher to find a place to live.”
The law, which went into effect September 3, prohibits sleeping, sitting, camping and obstructing the public right of way at several locations, many of which require a resolution to be passed by the Council before enforcement can take place.
Bonin said he would not vote for any enforcement of the law until the city has a “fully resourced and robust street engagement strategy.”
The Pacific Palisades Community Council (PPCC) and the Brentwood Community Council (BCC) recently sent letters to Bonin asking for a fair resolution for designating sensitive sites in their communities.
The letter sent by the PPCC states that its board disagrees with Bonin’s dissenting votes, adding that the anti-camping ordinance was passed by an overwhelming vote of the Council and signed by the Mayor.
“Other residents represented by responsive Councilmembers throughout Los Angeles are now being afforded the protections provided by the ordinance,” the letter states. “Your constituents, in contrast, are forced to do without these protections because you disagree with and/or misconstrue the ordinance and, now that it’s been enacted, refuse to implement in CD 11 the pre-enforcement procedures that Sec. 41.18 authorizes.”
The city administrative officer and chief legislative analyst estimate that 20 signs and five replacements are needed for each enforcement location. As of October 6, requests for enforcement had been submitted for 116 locations, and 79 were approved by the Council as of Tuesday. None of the locations are in Bonin’s CD11.
On September 14, the City Council approved a street engagement strategy that provides outreach teams to deploy to areas chosen for enforcement once a resolution is introduced. The teams, once staffed, will assess the encampments, determine how long engagement will take place, collaborate with city and county departments, as well as nonprofits, and connect encampment residents with services and interim and permanent housing placements.
Information from City News Service was used for this report.