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Housing and Homelessness

LA City Council Poised To Ban The Unhoused From Living Within 500 Feet Of Schools And Daycare Centers

A man, wearing blue jeans and a black top, is lying on the street inf front of a makeshift shelter in downtown L.A.
A person experiencing homelessness sleeps beside his makeshift temporary shelter on a street in downtown Los Angeles on June 25, 2018.
(Photo by Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)
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Los Angeles moved one step closer to expanding its anti-camping ordinance on Friday, signaling its intent to further restrict where the unhoused can sleep and store their belongings.

The City Council tentatively voted 10-1 to ban homeless encampments within 500 feet of all schools and daycare centers. But because the vote was not unanimous, the measure will return to the council for a second vote on July 27.

The move expands the city's anti-camping ordinance, 41.18, which was approved last summer and makes it illegal to camp in hundreds of areas across the city.

The law 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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L.A. Unified student Natalia Perez spoke in support of the ban. She said the amendment would ensure that students, especially those who walk to school unaccompanied, no longer have to deal with unsafe sanitary conditions.

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

Last month, L.A. Unified Superintendent Alberto Carvalho told city council members that students at some schools are seeing and hearing things that no parent would find acceptable for kids.

Opponents asked the council not to approve this motion, saying it will further criminalize homelessness. Advocate Travis Crown said that this ordinance would make it illegal for the unhoused to go almost anywhere.

"Making it illegal for a homeless person to be near school won't prevent your children from seeing homeless people," Crown said. "There are over 1,300 schools in Los Angeles. You're blocking off neighborhoods and making it impossible for them not to break the law."

Councilmember Mike Bonin, the only member who voted no, points out there are not nearly enough beds for the thousands of people in the city experiencing homelessness, and the expanded ban will make it even harder for them to find a place to stay.

"We disconnect people from the services, from the process of getting them off the streets, and we just make the problem more and more difficult," Bonin said.

Friday's vote comes nearly two weeks after the city council officially banned sidewalk bike repairs and bike sales.

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