L.A. Council to Hold Next Discussion on Homeless Laws on Tuesday

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Los Angeles City Council is slated tomorrow to discuss a proposed ordinance that would enforce where homeless people can sleep on public property, but no action on the matter will be taken at the meeting.

“The status quo is a failure to the unhoused and families in neighborhoods where encampments exist -- both populations are disproportionately Black and brown,'' Council President Nury Martinez said Friday in a Twitter post. “Our focus over these upcoming critical months must result in long-lasting change (and) relief for all impacted.''

The City Council in October decided against requesting the creation of an ordinance that would govern where people are allowed to sit, sleep or rest, saying the panel needed more time to deliberate.

Martinez directed the discussion on the matter to continue at Tuesday's meeting, after the council debated the item for nearly five hours on Oct. 28.

“It's kind of shocking because I've been waiting for the last seven years to get us moving in a direction where we can stop, for lack of a better word, the bleeding of people who are continuing to become homeless and living on our streets, and that has not happened,'' Martinez said during the Oct. 28 meeting. “And I also think we need to have an honest conversation about enforcement.''

Martinez said discussions about enforcing laws regarding the homeless population can be controversial and met with rebuke by advocacy groups, but she also said people are “tired'' of waiting for their homeless neighbors to get services.

Public speakers at the October meeting who were opposed to the motion said  the enforcement proposals are “sadistic and cruel'' and would only send more homeless people to the criminal justice system rather than mental health services.

The proposals, as they are currently written, would direct city staff to specify the times, locations and circumstances in which it's unlawful to sit, lie or sleep on the street, by:

-- requiring an offer of shelter be provided before enforcing the general rule against sleeping, lying or sleeping on the street;

-- prohibiting blocking the passage required under the Americans With Disabilities Act, either personally or with one's property;

-- prohibiting blocking building entrances and driveways, either personally or with one's property;

-- authorizing the council to designate specific new homeless shelter and service locations within up to 500 feet of which it would be unlawful to sit, lie or sleep or store property; and

-- would authorize the council to designate specific freeway overpasses, underpasses and similar locations within up to 500 feet of which it would be unlawful to sit, lie or sleep or store property.

The 2018 Martin v. Boise decision in U.S. District Court dictated that cities cannot remove homeless people from public property if they have nowhere to place them.

Photo: Getty Images

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