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Home / Neighborhood / Los Angeles / LA Councilman Buscaino seeks to ban encampments near libraries

LA Councilman Buscaino seeks to ban encampments near libraries

by City News Service
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Two days after the Los Angeles City Council took steps to ban homeless encampments within 500 feet of all schools and daycare facilities, Councilman Joe Buscaino introduced a motion Friday to ban encampments near city libraries.

The city’s anti-camping law, which went into effect last year, already restricts sleeping and encampments within 500 feet of schools and daycare facilities after each individual location is approved for enforcement by the City Council. On Tuesday, the council voted 13-2 to have the city attorney prepare an ordinance amendment to prohibit sitting, lying, sleeping or storing personal property within 500 feet of “any school or daycare.”

The amendment will need to be approved by the City Council before going into effect.

The motion for the amendment was introduced by Council President Nury Martinez and Councilmen Kevin de León, Curren Price, Paul Krekorian and Buscaino during the meeting and was not on the council’s agenda.

Buscaino on Friday introduced a motion to get an ordinance that would ban encampments within 500 feet of all city libraries, saying “libraries are an essential public resource and one of the pillars of our society.”

The councilman also cited reporting from the Westside Current, which said the Venice Kinney Memorial Branch Library was nearly burned by a nearby fire that started in a tent.

The city’s ordinance was approved last summer to modify the city’s previous anti-camping law in Municipal Code 41.18 to prohibit sitting, sleeping, lying, storing personal property or otherwise obstructing the public right of way in several areas of the city. Those areas include within two feet of any fire hydrant or fire plug; within five 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.

It also protected the public right-of-way within 500 feet of a “sensitive” facility (which includes schools, daycare facilities, parks and libraries) once the council passes a resolution to designate a specific area for enforcement, posts signage and gives notice of the date the ordinance will be enforced for the area.

The 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; and
  • 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; and
  • fires at the location.

People who violate the ordinance face an infraction or citation, but “a person who willfully resists, delays or obstructs a city employee from enforcing this section or who willfully refuses to comply after being requested to do so by an authorized city employee” can face higher fines and a misdemeanor charge, according to the ordinance.

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