The Los Angeles City Council agreed today to move forward with a feasibility study on the possibility of housing homeless people in temporary cabins or camping sites in certain westside parks and beach parking lots — a proposal that has drawn heated opposition from some neighborhood groups.
City Councilman Mike Bonin, who proposed the idea, insisted that the action asks only for a "feasibility study," and was not a final decision on whether such housing would actually be installed.
But he criticized the vitriolic opposition that has arisen since he introduced the motion last month.
"I've always said that there are two approaches to homelessness," Bonin said. "There are those who say there are places where we should look, and there are those that say there are places where we should not look. I am determined to be in that first (group). And as I said. I do not feel it would be appropriate to say we can't do it in my part of town."
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He said the city's homelessness crisis demands that the city "have a full menu of solutions" and must leave "no stone unturned."
City Council President Nury Martinez noted that her office received about 550 calls and 100 voicemails about the proposal on Tuesday alone. Tens of thousands of people have signed an online Change.org petition opposing Bonin's motion. The petition alleged that "if the motion is approved by the City Council, people who are homeless because of drugs and mental illness will have the legal right to live in the parking lot at our public beach in Pacific Palisades.''
Bonin's motion instructs the City Administrative Officer to evaluate the feasibility of and identify funding for:
- temporary single-occupancy tiny homes or a safe camping site at Will Rogers State Beach's county-owned parking lot at 17000 CA-1 in Pacific Palisades;
- temporary single-occupancy tiny homes, a safe camping or safe parking site at Dockweiler Beach's county-owned parking lot number three, at 11999 Vista Del Mar in Playa Del Rey;
- a temporary RV safe parking site in the county-owned RV park at Dockweiler Beach, at 12001 Vista Del Mary in Playa Del Rey; and
- temporary single-occupancy tiny homes or a safe camping site at Fisherman's Village's county-owned parking lot, at 13755 Fiji Way in Marina del Rey.
The motion also instructs the Department of Recreation and Parks to evaluate the feasibility of identifying portions of Mar Vista Park and Westchester Park for safe camping programs, while having the rest of the parks remain open for public use and programs. It also instructs Los Angeles World Airports to work with the City Administrative Officer to identify and fund an airport-owned site for safe camping, safe parking or tiny homes.
The motion passed on a 13-1 vote, with Councilman Joe Buscaino dissenting, saying the sites included in the motion "are no feasible" for
Buscaino said the proposal raises concerns about public access to beaches and parks, along with public safety issues.
"I'm also very concerned about this proposal will impact access to recreational spaces across this city," Buscaino said.
He said the city needs to "balance the needs of our unhoused residents with the needs of the housed," adding, "Parks and beaches must not be sacrificed for the needs of the few at the expense of the many."
Bonin shot back: "If Mr. Buscaino has some extra sites in his district for people who are currently unhoused in my district, I would be happy to look at those as a substitute for those that I have proposed."
Councilman Mitch O'Farrell, who came under fire from some homeless advocates following the removal of about 200 homeless people from Echo Park to make way for a renovation effort, also cited concerns about Los Angeles being a "park-poor" city and the possibility of Bonin's proposal exacerbating that problem. But he said he would not oppose a simple feasibility study.
Bonin's motion also calls for an exploration of using a vacant space adjacent to his West L.A. district office in the L.A. Municipal Building, at 1645 Corinth Ave., as a site for temporary shelter for homeless women.
Funding would also be explored for temporary safe camping sites at the privately owned parcel at 5000 Beethoven Avenue in Del Rey and for a temporary single-occupancy tiny home site or safe camping site at a property owned by Culver City.