LA Expands Homeless Encampment Ban Near Schools at Rowdy City Hall Meeting

The ordinance approved after an hour-long interruption expands a ban on homeless encampments within 500 feet of all schools and daycare centers.

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An ordinance that bans homeless encampments near schools and daycare centers was approved by the Los Angeles City Council in an unruly scene Tuesday at City Hall.

Discussion about the measure included an hour-long, obscenity laden disruption by activists who chanted and shouted in the council chamber. In the end, the ordinance that expands a ban on homeless encampments within 500 feet of schools and daycare centers was approved by an 11-3 vote.

Council members called an hourlong recess before voting on the amendment to city law.

The council voted 10-1 in favor of the ordinance last month. Because the vote wasn't unanimous, it required a second vote Tuesday.

The amendment expands locations where camping and sleeping are banned.

Those areas include within 2 feet of any fire hydrant or fire plug; within 5 feet of any operational or utilizable entrance or exit; within 10 feet of a loading dock or driveway; in a manner that interferes with any activity for which the city has issued a permit or restricts accessible passage as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act; or anywhere within a street, including bike paths.

The law also already protected the public right of way within 500 feet of schools, day care facilities, parks and libraries -- but only if each specific location is designated by the council for enforcement.

The amendment is a blanket ban on encampments within 500 feet of all schools and daycare centers.

Several people spoke in opposition to the ordinance. Opponents of the ordinance argue that it would penalize homelessness.

The interruption began when Councilmember Joe Buscaino, who proposed the ban near schools last year, started the speak. Audience members chanted, "Shut it down," preventing Buscaino from speaking.

The council called a recess, but a few dozen people remained inside the chamber. Some made speeches in opposition to the ban.

The city ordinance also prohibits encampments and sleeping within:

  • Up to 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.
  • Up to 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 also allows the city to prevent encampments for a period of no longer than one year in areas that are deemed an ongoing threat to public health or safety, including due to:

  • Death or serious bodily injury of any person at the location due to a hazardous condition.
  • Repeated serious or violent crimes or threats of serious or violent crimes, including human trafficking.
  • Fires at the location.

People who violate the ordinance face an infraction or citation.

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