The Los Angeles City Council voted on Tuesday to ban homeless encampments outside schools and daycare centers, despite angry protests from homeless activists who insulted the council members.
The council voted 11 to 3 in favor of the ordinance which outlaws homeless encampments within 500 feet of schools and daycare centers. The law is an amendment added to Municipal Code 41.18 which prohibits sitting, sleeping or obstructing the public in areas of the city.
Members of Street Watch L.A. and the L.A. Tenants Union crammed into the council chambers, holding signs and chanting to interrupt the proceedings.
The vote was delayed after a disruption from the protesters that was called “incredibly disturbing” by Council President Nury Martinez.
“What we witnessed here this morning, unfortunately, was really an attempt to try and keep us from taking a vote,” Martinez said. “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.”
Protesters angrily denounced the city council for what they said was criminalizing poverty. At one point, a protester accused them of advocating for the death of homeless people.
Councilman Mitch O’Farrell pushed back on the accusation that they were killing people.
“I’m going to stand up for this council,” O’Farrell said. “Everyone here is compassionate, deeply caring of people who are the most vulnerable among us. I’m not going to buy into this rhetoric that we’re monsters, that we’re murderers or anything like that. It’s all nonsense.”
Los Angeles Community Action Network member Ruben Garcia told the City News Service that the city would not be able to enforce the new ordinance because there are so many camps in the city.
“They’re putting on a little show because they can’t enforce it,” Garcia said. “There’s tents everywhere. So good luck being able to enforce that law. They won’t be able to enforce it. Because what are they going to do, arrest people for being homeless?”
One homeless person told KTLA-TV that the law was impractical.
“How can I count 500 feet? I don’t carry a tape measure with me,” said Susan Hartnett. “Where do we go?”
An audit in February from Los Angeles Controller Ron Galperin said that some housing units constructed by the city for homeless people cost as much as $837,000 each.
Here’s a local news report about the vote:
Homeless encampments near schools banned by LA City Council after heated meeting