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Group Opposed To Koreatown Homeless Shelter Asks South Korea PM to Cancel Garcetti Meeting

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – A community group against a proposal to build a homeless shelter in Koreatown will deliver a letter Tuesday to the Korean Consulate Office requesting that South Korea Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon reconsider a meeting with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti scheduled for later this week in South Korea.

Hundreds Block Traffic To Protest Koreatown Homeless Shelter
Hundreds of people protest against a proposed homeless shelter in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Koreatown. May 24, 2018. (CBS2)

Members of the Wilshire Community Coalition have strongly opposed the mayor's proposal to build a temporary homeless shelter at city-owned parking lot located at 682 S. Vermont Ave. without input from Koreatown residents and felt a meeting between the two leaders would be improper at this juncture, according to a statement from the group.

They say that when members of the Korean American community attempted to talk with the mayor about his decision to build the shelter in Koreatown, he refused to meet with them, the statement said. The group said Garcetti's office also used a "blacklist" to prevent them from attending the mayor's "Homeless Solutions Workshop."

Alex Comisar, a spokesperson for the mayor, countered the coalition's claim. He told CBS2 that Garcetti met with the Wilshire Community Coalition and several other groups back in May.

The mayor is leading a delegation of business leaders and city officials on a 10-day trip to Asia that will include stops in Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea and Vietnam.

Last month, in the face of growing opposition, the L.A. City Council voted unanimously to study the possibility of a different site for the shelter. This came after two months of intense protest against the shelter.

Those opposed to the proposal argue the location sits within a one-mile radius of eight schools and several businesses, adding the K-Town community was not involved in the decision.

The Koreatown site is among at least two dozen locations that have been proposed as possible sites for temporary shelters as part of a new citywide program known as "A Bridge Home," crafted by Mayor Eric Garcetti. However, the Koreatown site has received the lion's share of the focus due to significant opposition that has arisen in the neighborhood since Garcetti and Wesson announced the site as a potential location during a May 2 news conference.

The city's 2018-19 budget includes at least $20 million for Garcetti's "A Bridge Home" initiative, and a potential $10 million more that could be used in a variety of ways to support homeless programs.

The city has explored multiple options for dealing with its growing homeless population. In February, the council unanimously approved putting about 60 homeless people in trailers on a downtown lot at Arcadia and Alameda streets. The trailers, which contain bathrooms, showers and beds, are expected to cost about $2 million to build and another $1 million to operate.

In November 2016, L.A. voters passed Proposition HHH, a $1.2 billion bond measure to fund permanent housing for the homeless, but the units will take years to approve and build.

In March 2017, L.A. County voters adopted Measure H, a quarter-cent Los Angeles County sales tax to fund anti-homelessness programs. It is meant to generate $355 million annually for 10 years to fund a variety of programs to combat homelessness.

(©2018 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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