A Los Angeles Democrat running for mayor has called on the city to resume its ban on sidewalk encampments after police arrested a homeless woman with a knife at a campaign stop earlier this week.
Councilman Joe Buscaino introduced a motion on Wednesday urging his colleagues to rescind the suspension of enforcement of a law guiding encampment sweeps. The ban was initially approved so homeless people could shelter in place during the pandemic. But for more than a year, they have been allowed to keep their tents up at all times in the city of L.A.
According to City News Service, “Buscaino requested the City Council amend the mayor’s Declaration of Local Emergency and resume enforcement of Los Angeles Municipal Code Section 56.11, which regulates the storage of personal property in public areas.” The outlet reported, “It prohibits people from configuring a tent in any public area from 6 am to 9 pm, except when raining or if the temperature dips below 50 degrees.”
Democratic Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Declaration of Local Emergency includes a suspension of enforcing the ordinance. Since it was implemented in March 2020, however, City Council has voted to extend the declaration month-to-month, partly because it is tied to federal funding.
Buscaino said “comprehensive clean ups of our public spaces” should resume because “COVID is essentially over,” the state is preparing to reopen the economy, and baseball fans are attending Dodger games.
“I believe with this one action we could start making a real difference in the out-of-control encampments we see throughout our city,” he told KTLA on Thursday. “This is just a common-sense solution.”
Some of Buscaino’s more progressive counterparts on the city council expressed concern that resuming enforcement would not be enough to solve the problem, and a broader approach would be necessary.
“We can not just restrict where and how the unhoused occupy public spaces,” said Democratic Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas. “We must stay laser focused on offering these Angelenos decent housing options and the support services needed to get people back on their feet. Focusing on enforcement alone diverts our attention from the real solutions needed to end this crisis, and may further make matters worse.”
During a campaign stop on the Venice Beach boardwalk Monday morning, Buscaino spoke of banning homeless encampments at beaches, in parks, and on sidewalks. The area, which is not part of Buscaino’s district, has become notorious for tents lining the beachfront. As The Daily Wire reported, the event was cut short when a homeless woman with a knife was seen near Buscaino and arrested by police. A witness claimed she threatened to kill people, but she was released on her own recognizance later that day.
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