By Bob Blumenfield
As we have been successfully creating more transitional and permanent housing, the City Council has been approving specific, but limited locations where we can legally have a ‘no encampment buffer’ area.
Under the law LAMC 41.18, these areas have included sensitive sites or corridors that serve a public good and often have a history of encampments. These zones have included sidewalks under freeways, around parks as well as the perimeter of transitional housing sites. This week the City Council took the final vote needed to approve these “no encampment” restrictions for schools and daycare centers – specifically prohibiting encampments within a modest 500 feet of any school or daycare facility within the city’s limits.
This move was very much needed and I am proud to have strongly supported this measure. A few months ago LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho came to City Hall asking for this expansion and it was important for us to act. We have legal limitations that encampments cannot be on school grounds and it’s reasonable to extend that restricted area to 500 feet around campuses. Students and parents deserve to be safe at all hours, while at school and safe passage walking to and from school.
Once again, protesters against this measure were in Council Chambers arguing that this action “won’t solve homelessness” and that it “criminalizes” people for simply being homeless.
As I said last week, the reality is that 41.18 is not intended to solve homelessness, so that argument is a “red herring.” Rather, its purpose is to ensure that certain sensitive use public spaces are passable and usable for all. To Angelenos who do not support 41.18, I will continue to say that while we continue to get people housed and bring more services online, we cannot let all of our streets, parks and sidewalks be open to encampments. It’s imperative that we use 41.18 where it can be legally used and where it serves a purpose for the public good.
To be clear, 41.18 isn’t something we can apply everywhere as we must abide by the limitations of the federal Court’s “Boise decision” for it to be enforceable and because we don’t have enough shelter for everyone who is on the street. While we still must work to continue to create the needed shelter and services, we cannot wait to implement common sense encampment restrictions. The fact that we already created an unprecedented amount of housing, transitional and permanent, throughout the West Valley and entire City makes these basic restrictions even more justifiable.
As we make more progress, I will continue to update you in Valley News Group publications, on social media, and on my newsletter (sign up at Blumenfield.LACity.org). As always, please reach out if you have any questions on this issue at firstname.lastname@example.org.