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LA City Council votes to expand encampment ban amid active protest

The Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday to ban sitting, sleeping and storing property in public within 500 feet of schools and daycares. This motion creates an amendment to LA Municipal Code 41.18, which already prohibits these activities in several other public places in the city. (Lauren Man/Daily Bruin senior staff)

By Benjamin Apsley

Aug. 7, 2022 4:00 p.m.

This post was updated August 7 at 11:20 p.m.

The Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday to ban sitting, sleeping and storing property in public near all schools and daycare centers in the city.

The Council voted 11-3 on Tuesday to amend LA Municipal Code section 41.18, which prohibits sitting, lying, sleeping and storing property in many public areas. The amendment adds areas within 500 feet of schools and daycares to the list of places where these activities are prohibited.

Paul Koretz, the District 5 council member representing UCLA and Westwood, was one of the 11 representatives to vote yes on the motion.

Mitch O’Farrell, the council member representing District 13, said while the motion does displace individuals experiencing homelessness, they already have significant resources available to them such as transitional housing and tiny home villages.

District 15 council member Joe Buscaino said during the meeting that the motion would allow for safer passage to schools and daycares for students, parents and teachers. He added that he felt the motion would help protect students and parents from indecent exposure, fires, needles, theft and sex crimes.

Bob Blumenfield, the council member representing District 3, said the motion is not a dramatic change from current law, which already prohibits encampments on school grounds.

“If we move the boundary from the literal school property to 500 feet, that is not that big of a deal in terms of adding to this restriction,” Blumenfield said. “But it does make it easier and better for the community and those schools.”

Council members opposing the motion argued the motion effectively bans homelessness without addressing its causes.

Mike Bonin, the council member representing District 11, said during the meeting that the amendment will limit the visibility of individuals experiencing homelessness without actually solving the root causes of homelessness.

“We’re refusing to accept that saying ‘You can’t be homeless’ means that you somehow magically won’t be homeless,” Bonin said.

Nithya Raman, the council member representing District 4, echoed similar concerns, as she and Bonin voted against the motion.

Raman said section 41.18 has not been effective in addressing homelessness. She added that the Council should work toward solutions that address the root causes of homelessness instead of making it illegal.

The amendment faced controversy from the audience, with dozens of protesters interrupting the Council’s discussion of this motion roughly an hour into the meeting. The city attorney cleared the room of all audience members except reporters in response to the disruption.

Protesters in the city council audience shouted “Shut it down” and held signs reading “Abolish 41.18” and “41.18 is cruelty.”

Nury Martinez, the Council president and representative of District 6, said she felt the audience was attempting to prevent the vote by ending the city council meeting.

“I think people were intent this morning to shut this place down and keep us from doing the very job that we were all elected to do,” Martinez said. “And that, I think, is incredibly disturbing.”

The Council will revisit the amendment in a second reading Tuesday. The motion is subject to the approval of Mayor Eric Garcetti.

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Benjamin Apsley
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