Westside Neighborhood Councils Call for Action on Anti-Camping Ordinance

WRAC Board passes two motions related to camping in public areas

By Dolores Quintana

The Westside Regional Alliance of Councils or WRAC Board has passed a motion that could go up for a vote potentially in fourteen community and neighborhood councils. The Board seeks to compel action from the LA City Council to enforce the rules of the new anti-camping ordinance passed by Council intended to put a stop to encampments of the homeless in various public areas. 

For the ordinance’s clauses to be enforced, the LA City Council must vote to approve each action taken against any encampment or persons violating the ordinance through a resolution. After a resolution is passed, anti-camping signs can be posted and after 14 days, the city may then issue fines to compel compliance and as punishment. 

This new ordinance replaces the previous version of the Municipal Code 41.18 and now prohibits “…sitting, lying, or sleeping, or by storing, using, maintaining, or placing personal property” in a way that obstructs public use or access to public streets, sidewalks or other types of public structures or private property. There is a clause that also prevents the same with specific places that are related to the presence of children designated as sensitive use as in “a School, Day Care Center, Public Park, or Public Library.” 

This motion by WRAC’s Board is attempting to press the LA City Council members who represent the areas that WRAC represents–Mike Bonin, Paul Koretz, Nithya Raman, and Mark Ridley-Thomas–to work with the neighborhood councils to identify areas that require enforcement of the ordinance and then to bring resolutions to the City Council as soon as possible to hasten enforcement of the ordinance at the designated sites. The motion does, however, state that offers of shelter should first be made and refused by the people in the encampments before enforcement proceeds. Of the four City Council members that represent the WRAC area, two of them were the only City Council members to vote against the ordinance, Bonin and Raman. 

Another motion that was passed by the WRAC council is a motion to support the proposed resolution written by City Council member Joe Buscaino and seconded by Paul Koretz that would prohibit encampments near all schools in the City of Los Angeles and that signs be posted near all school buildings, at the approved distance of 500 feet, to warn anyone who would attempt to camp there to stay away from the school grounds. The resolution can be read here

The two motions was written by WRAC Homelessness Committee Chair (HOC) Jay Handel and Vice Chair Chris Spitz. The motion is available to read at Westside Councils.com. This motion has been passed by the Pacific Palisades Community Council (PPCC) and the PPCC has sent a list of schools, day care facilities, public parks, and libraries in their area to City Council member Mike Bonin requesting that he write a resolution for the City Council members to vote on to designate all of those sites as sensitive use in order to enforce the ordinance. The letter was sent on Sept. 12 and, as of yet, Mike Bonin has not responded.

WRAC Vice Chair Spitz was quoted by Westside Current.com and stated “Burgeoning homeless encampments in the public-right-of-way are THE presenting issue in Los Angeles. Protecting our children and supporting our schools are priorities for the vast majority of WRAC constituents with families. Prompt follow-up by Bonin and other WRAC Councilmembers – to work with WRAC Member-Councils and bring resolutions in LA City Council to allow enforcement under the ordinance – would be consistent with these priorities.”

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