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LA Councilman Proposes Ban On Homeless Encampments Near Schools

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – A Los Angeles City Councilmember has proposed banning homeless encampments from around schools.

Los Angeles Councilman Joe Buscaino
Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino holds a news conference on Aug. 16, 2021, while surrounded by protesters. (CBSLA)

Councilman Joe Buscaino announced Monday that he will introduce a resolution that bans encampments from within 500 feet of all public schools.

"Hundreds of thousands of students are going back to school for the first time in 18-months," said Buscaino in a news conference outside Larchmont Charter School. "During the pandemic encampments formed and grew around school campuses as they did in Venice Beach. We must address public safety issues - especially simple access to sidewalks."

The proposal would be included as a resolution as part of the no-camping ordinance which was approved by the city council last month and takes effect on Sept. 3. That ordinance bans homeless encampments from certain areas of the city, including sidewalks.

The ordinance also protects the public right of way within 500 feet of a "sensitive" facility, including schools, once the city council passes a resolution to designate a specific area for enforcement, posts signage and gives notice of the date that the ordinance will be enforced.

Meanwhile, a protest during Buscaino's news conference became tense when one of his aides swiped at a protester's sign. The move prompted Buscaino to admonish the aide.

As opponents chanted over the mayoral candidate and stood behind him with signs that read "Housekeys Not Handcuffs" and "Services Not Sweeps," Buscaino's communications director Branimir Kvartuc got grabbed a woman's sign, prompting the councilman to intervene and tell him to "back off."

Kvartuc said his intention was to move the sign so it wasn't blocking Buscaino's face during the news conference, but he said the woman jerked back when he grabbed it and the sign broke. The confrontation ended the news conference and the councilman left the podium.

Buscaino has been aggressive in his efforts to combat the city's homeless crisis. In June, he co-authored a motion to withdraw from the L.A. Homeless Services Authority. LAHSA is an organization with a $1 billion yearly budget that matches unhoused Angelenos with shelter, and also provides outreach regarding homelessness services. Buscaino alleges LAHSA has been ineffectual.

Buscaino is also running in the 2022 L.A. mayor's race.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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