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The Process To Take Down The Fence Around Echo Park Has Begun

A sign hanging from a tree reads: "Community De-Fence!" behind a toppled chain wire fence. Behind are lighted buildings.
Last year, a group of individuals disassembled the fence surrounding Echo Park lake. Another attempt was made this week, ahead of L.A. City Councilmember Hugo Soto-Martinez saying he is starting the process of permanent removal.
(Ashley Balderrama
for LAist)
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That fence around Echo Park? L.A. City Councilmember Hugo Soto-Martínez said Thursday that it's officially coming down.

The timing

Soto-Martínez made an official announcement Thursday that his office is in the process of taking down the fence, but he wants to make sure the city can help anybody who might try to camp at the park once the fence is gone.

"We don't want to rush it," he said. "We want to make sure that we have all the resources, the service providers, the outreach workers lined up and ready to go before finalizing the exact date."

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The backstory

Mitch O'Farrell, Soto-Martínez's predecessor, put up the fence almost two years ago after clearing a large encampment of unhoused people that settled in the park early in the pandemic.

At that time, the LAPD arrested around 180 people who protested the encampment's removal.

Since then, unknown groups of people have torn down parts of the fence twice. The most recent instance was on Monday.

The removal of the people living in the park and the fence became a major campaign issue last year. Ultimately, Soto-Martínez, who is known for his progressive politics, defeated O'Farrell by 15 percentage points.

"We understood that this was a campaign promise, but we didn't wanna rush it," he said in an interview with LAist. "We didn't want to do the same mistakes that were done in the past."

He called it "coincidental" that another attempt to remove the fence took place this week, saying "our intention was to move this forward as one of our first items."

Soto-Martínez's full statement

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