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Housing and Homelessness

The Controversial Echo Park Lake Fence Is Coming Down

The logo of Echo Park on a bike is on the foreground. On the background are piles of wired fences sitting on the grass of the park.
The fence surrounding Echo Park Lake placed in 2021 and that ignited several protests is now being removed.
(Arantza Peña Popo)
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After nearly two years, the chain link fence surrounding Echo Park Lake is being removed by the Department of Recreation and Parks. Los Angeles Councilmember Hugo Soto-Martinez announced Friday the totality of the fence should be removed by March 31.

The fence was initially erected following the controversial clearing of roughly 200 unhoused people from the park by police, which also resulted in about 180 protesters and journalists being detained.

The decision to remove the fence was made by Soto-Martinez, who unseated incumbent Mitch O’Farrell last fall.

In 2021, O’Farrell closed the park, claiming it needed to get cleaned and repaired. But for many, the decision was an effort to expel unhoused communities camping in the area, sparking the protests.

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O’Farrell asked the LAPD to clear the park at the behest of fed up residents, a decision that galvanized his opponents and helped lead to his ouster.

Soto-Martinez promised to remove the fence during his campaign. He has called the Echo Park eviction "the biggest failure of homeless policy in the history of Los Angeles.”

In an emailed statement, Soto-Martinez said that one of their goals is to ensure “Echo Park Lake is safe, clean and accessible for all.”

Outreach workers from groups including the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, Homeless Health Care Los Angeles and People Assisting the Homeless will have a daily presence at the park, according to the statement. And an unarmed response team — part of the CIRCLE program — will be available at night.

While he visited the area on Monday, park-goer and local resident John C Miranda said he doesn’t agree with the city’s decision to put the fencing up in the first place.

"That (fencing the park) doesn't make sense because if it's a public area. It shouldn't matter what you're socio-economic group is; it should be allowed for everyone," Miranda said.

Yulu Fuentes grew up in Echo Park and said she felt relieved to see the fencing go.

"I feel like when the fences went up, there was just a change in approachability to the park. It felt very punitive to see the fences up as a response of unhoused neighbors that were residing at the park," Fuentes said.

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