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Housing and Homelessness

City Council Postpones Vote To Expand Anti-Camping Law To Encampments Near LA Schools And Daycares

Protesters carry homemade signs that read "Housing is a human right" and "We need housing not more arrests" among other messages.
A few dozen people gathered near L.A. City Hall to protest a planned vote to expand the city's anti-camping ordinance that was later postponed.
(Phoenix Tso
LAist )
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The L.A. City Council has delayed a vote on a motion banning homeless encampments with 500 feet of a school or daycare facility.

The delay comes after city council members earlier this month voted 10-1 to expand the current anti-camping law, which went into effect last July and is applied unevenly throughout the city.

The City Council is now scheduled to consider the measure at Tuesday's meeting.

The 41.18 ordinance makes it illegal for unhoused folks to "sit, lie or sleep" on any street, sidewalk, or other public walkway that is covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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Because the vote was not unanimous, the measure was scheduled to the council for a second vote Wednesday.

The Opposition

Several dozen activists showed up outside City Hall opposing the measure.

Pete White, the director of Los Angeles Community Action Network, says they came out to protest because it's important to show how many people are against this motion.

"It will not be a vote that we will just sit back and quietly allow to move forward," White said.

An unhoused activist known as Mama Cat spoke about her own experiences under the city's current anti-camping ordinance. She says she was forced to leave an encampment that was banned under the ordinance and has been in temporary housing since.

Under the law, officials may only clear the encampments after an offer of shelter is made.

Mama Cat said she's had no luck finding a permanent placement, and that expanding the encampment ban will leave more unhoused people with virtually nowhere to go. Many need help with issues including mental health and addiction.

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"There's human beings out here," she said, "we have a human crisis going on."

White said the ordinance criminalizes unhoused people rather than helping them.

"It's ironic that we are sitting about a half a block away from the sister city sign," he said. "It points to, you know, the cities across the globe that we are connected to. Right now, Los Angeles does not feel like a sister city or family to anyone, namely to poor Angelenos."

Support For The Ban

There are also supporters among residents, L.A. students and officials for banning encampments near schools and daycares.

L.A. Unified Superintendent Alberto Carvalho has previously spoken in support of the motion, saying the encampments are exposing students to inappropriate behavior. He said last month that "we have a moral, a professional, a personal responsibility to protect our children.”

At the July 1 vote, Natalia Perez, an LAUSD student, said preventing camping next to schools would mean students wouldn't have to deal with unsanitary and unsafe conditions.

"While I empathize with the unhoused community," she said, "I believe that students should not have to be exposed to the same environments that unhoused people are exposed to."

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