This week the LA City Council passed legislation, which I co-authored, that will establish constitutional, enforceable laws prohibiting encampments in certain sensitive areas.  

Areas that are to be designated will require notice and an offer of services and shelter before they can be made off-limits to encampments. 

It will also enable the enforcement of disability access laws. 

Earlier this month, the ordinance was heard and passed with a 13-2 vote but as it wasn’t unanimous; it had to come back for a second vote.  I had introduced a version of this last year and have been working ever since to get it passed— this is a big win for the community. 

So what does this mean for the homeless crisis in the Valley?

This will allow the City to have buffer zones including around freeways (i.e. Corbin underpass and Bowlero) and around shelter sites (i.e. the Willows and the Sycamore and Sunflower cabin communities). Each area needs to not only fit those location characteristics, but they must be presented to the City Council for a vote to be made off-limits for encampments.

Getting key locations throughout the district to go through that process will still take some time and we will continue sending outreach workers to all of these locations in the interim and, of course, intensively during the two week process that will be triggered by the resolution to make such an area off-limits for encampments.

This comes at a time when hundreds of more beds in the West Valley are opening through Cabin Communities and other interventions. Housing, services, and outreach are critical components to address the crisis. With other efforts like Project Homekey and Bridge Housing, we’re finally within reach of having enough shelter beds for every single unhoused person in CD3 to come indoors.  While the rest of the City is still far from this goal, more permanent housing is getting built in the West Valley and we are bringing more services to our local streets. While I believe everyone has a right to a roof over their head, I don’t believe that everyone has a right to encamp anywhere they want. As we increase our transitional housing opportunities and services, this law is desperately needed. 

By Bob Blumenfield