LA City Council votes to enforce anti-camping law at 58 new locations, including MacArthur Park

LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday voted to enforce its anti-camping law at 58 new locations, including MacArthur Park, with two council members voting against the resolutions.

The five resolutions passed will allow enforcement at MacArthur Park's north and south side, 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 law, which went into effect Sept. 3, prohibits sleeping, sitting, camping and obstructing the public right of way within 500 feet of "sensitive'' facilities, including schools, day care facilities, parks and libraries.

It can be enforced once the council passes a resolution to designate a specific area for enforcement, posts signage and gives notice of the date that the ordinance will be enforced for the area. The ordinance is also supposed to go hand-in-hand with street engagement and offers of shelter to people living in the location selected for enforcement.

MacArthur Park's lakeside portion was closed on Oct. 15 for "much-needed deferred maintenance.'' At the time about 290 people were moved indoors ahead of the closure, but people were also allowed to move to the other side of the park across Wilshire Boulevard, Cedillo's office told City News Service in October.

Cedillo's new resolution will enforce the city's anti-camping law around both sides of the park: MacArthur Park Lake, at Wilshire Boulevard between Alvarado and Park View streets and the MacArthur Park Recreation Center at 2230 W. Sixth St. Cedillo's office said the decision was made with people's health, safety and welfare -- particularly that of children and youth -- as the councilman's top priority.

The park's lakeside was initially set to reopen after 10 weeks, but Cedillo's office said it was delayed due to workforce impacts, supply disruptions and heavy rainfall in December. As of last week, when Cedillo's office said outreach was conducted in the enforcement area, three tents and three makeshift residences were remaining in the park area selected for enforcement. The councilman's office began offering shelter options to people living in the park in January 2021.

Once a resolution passes, enforcement can also be conducted:

-- within 500 feet of a designated overpass, underpass, freeway ramp, tunnel, bridge, pedestrian bridge, subway, wash or spreading ground, railroad track or where lodging unsheltered or in tents is unhealthy, unsafe and incompatible with safe passage; 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.

The ordinance was passed over the summer by council members citing the need for urgent action on the city's homelessness crisis. While opponents have compared it to criminalizing homelessness when the city doesn't have adequate shelter or housing for its unhoused population, proponents have said people can move from areas of enforcement to other parts of the city and that the purpose of the ordinance is to prevent blight and keep encampments from areas with children and other "sensitive'' locations.

Los Angeles City Councilwoman Nithya Raman and Councilman Mike Bonin both voted against the ordinance and all enforcement resolutions since the ordinance was passed.

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