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Ordinance Restricting Homeless Encampments In Parts Of Los Angeles Goes Into Effect Friday

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) -- The new ordinance that restricts sleeping and homeless encampments in certain areas of Los Angeles went into effect Friday, but for the time being only accessibility obstructions will be enforced, while the city approves an accompanying Street Engagement Strategy.

Approved by the City Council and signed by Mayor Eric Garcetti in July, the law modifies the city's current anti-camping law, which prohibits sitting, sleeping, lying, storing personal property or otherwise obstructing the public right-of-way in specific parts of the city, such as within two feet of a fire hydrant, 10 feet of a loading dock or driveway, within a street or bike path, and any area that restricts accessible passage as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The ordinance will also protect the public right of way within 500 feet of schools, day facilities, parks and libraries, once the council passes a resolution designating an area for enforcement, posts signs and gives notice of the date that the law will be enforced in that location. These areas will include:

-- 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.

Additionally, the ordinance will allow 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.

In a jointly issued statement Friday, Mayor Eric Garcetti, Council President Nury Martinez and the Los Angeles Police Department said that other than accessibility obstructions, including those that violate the Americans with Disability Act, the ordinance will not be enforced until the City Council enacts a Street Engagement Strategy to connect people to services and housing.

The City Council's Homelessness and Poverty Committee and its Energy Climate Change, Environmental Justice and River Committee advanced a motion to approve recommendations for a Street Engagement Strategy to accompany the ordinance. The full City Council has not yet voted on the motion.

"We will only be able to provide the housing and services that are needed if trusted and skilled outreach workers are able to effectively engage -- and this strategy is the roadmap to do it, and do it well. The full City Council should act swiftly to adopt the Street Engagement Strategy, as time is of the essence," Councilman Mark Ridley Thomas, who chairs the Homelessness
and Poverty Committee, said Thursday.

The strategy would include emergency outreach, service-focused outreach and sanitation outreach. Each council district would have its own Homeless Engagement Team to deploy as needed, according to a report by the Chief Legislative Analyst, which built on the City Administrative Office's work developing the strategy.

Council members Mike Bonin and Nithya Raman, who have been targeted for a recall for what opponents say is due in part to their response to the homelessness crisis, were the dissenters when LA City Council voted to approve the ordinance.

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

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