City Council votives to enforce its anti-camping ordinance at 58 new locations
By Sam Catanzaro
Councilmember Mike Bonin was one of two members of the Los Angeles City Council to vote against enforcing anti-camping laws this week, claiming that these rules “make us less safe and make homelessness worse.”
On Wednesday, Los Angeles City Council voted to enforce its anti-camping ordinance at 58 new locations across the city, allowing enforcement at MacArthur Park, as well as 27 other locations in Councilman Gil Cedillo’s district, 22 locations in Councilman Joe Buscaino’s district and seven locations in Councilman Kevin de Leon’s district.
The regulations went into effect September 3, 2021, prohibit sleeping, sitting, camping and blocking the public right of way within 500 feet of “sensitive” places, including schools, daycare centers, parks, public libraries and underpasses and within 1,000 feet of a facility opened after Jan. 1, 2018, that provides shelter, safe sleeping, safe parking or navigation centers for persons experiencing homelessness.
Under the ordinance, City Council must pass a resolution to establish a specific area for enforcement, posts signage stating the date that the ordinance will be enforced for an area. In addition, the law is intended to be complemented with street engagement, including offering shelter to people living in a designated area.
The rules were initially approved by City Council over the summer with supporters citing the pressing need for action on the homelessness crisis. Opponents, however, claim it criminalizes homelessness at a time when Los Angeles doesn’t have sufficient shelter or housing for its unhoused population. Among the most vocal opponents of the ordinance is Councilmember Bonin, who represents much of the Westside, and Councilmember Nithya Raman On Wednesday, Bonin took to Twitter to speak out against the law.
“Many people — including my political opponents — are demanding I support and implement laws that criminalize sitting and lying down in ever larger portions of our city. But these laws take us backwards, make us less safe, and make homelessness worse. Unhoused people are disproportionately the `victims’ of crime — and no official has the power (or desire) to prevent police from investigating criminal acts. But statutes like 41.18 criminalize not so much an act as the very `state’ of being unhoused,” Bonin wrote.
Proponents of the law, however, say that people can relocate from enforcement zones to other areas of the city and that the ordinance intends to control the blight of encampments and keep them away from places with children and other “sensitive” locations.