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Mayor Garcetti Plans To Block Harsh Crackdown On Homeless

Facing an uphill battle (Photo by Ryo Chiba via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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Mayor Garcetti plans to block the enforcement of strict new measures that target homeless camps until changes can be made to make them more humane.

The mayor initially supported two ordinances that made it easier for law enforcement to break up homeless camps and remove personal property from parks and sidewalks. But yesterday Garcetti changed his stance, saying that though he will allow the harsh policies to become law without his signature, he will order city departments not to carry out aggressive sweeps on the homeless. He said he plans to block enforcement until safeguards can be added to better protect the homeless and their belongings.

The ordinances, passed by the City Council last week, reduce the warning time for homeless individuals to move their possessions from 72 hours to just 24 before they can be seized or destroyed in the case of large items. Violators could be ticketed or in some cases charged with a misdemeanor. The mayor's proposed amendments would remove the misdemeanor penalty, better clarify when property is considered unattended, and removes medications and documents from the list of items that can be forcibly removed. According to a statement from the mayor's office the current ordinances do “not adequately achieve the proper balance” between keeping the streets clean and protecting the rights of people.

And while Garcetti's proposals soften the strict measures, critics like retired UCLA law professor Gary Blasi, argue that they are "purely cosmetic" and won't "change the practical effect at all." Blasi contends that the city is not doing enough to proactively end homelessness and instead choosing policies of force and intimidation.