Los Angeles OKs extend ban on homeless camps near schools

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Homeless encampments that have proliferated in nearly every neighborhood in Los Angeles will no longer be allowed within 500 feet (152 meters) of schools and daycares under a sweeping ban approved Tuesday. at a city council meeting disrupted by protesters who said the law criminalizes homelessness.

The council voted 11-3 to broadly extend an existing ban on sitting, sleeping or camping that previously only applied to council-specified schools and daycares.

The meeting was suspended ahead of the vote when dozens of protesters shouted their opposition to the measure and police evacuated the council chamber. One person has been arrested, Los Angeles Police Department Officer Annie Hernandez said.

Protesters also gathered outside City Hall, chanting ‘Abolish 41.18’, a reference to the law banning camping on freeway overpasses, around train tracks, near loading docks, in libraries and more. locations.

The final vote, which applies to public and private schools in the city, came after two previous votes, including one last week that was also interrupted by a loud protest.

Los Angeles is among many cities struggling to cope with rising homelessness and large encampments scattered along sidewalks that have sparked public outcry.

Proponents of the blanket ban have said homeless camps pose a threat to the health and safety of schoolchildren, particularly due to the disruptive presence of people with drug addictions or mental illness.

“It’s something to protect the children of our city,” councilman Paul Koretz said before voting for the measure. He said “asking people in an encampment to walk a few hundred feet” should be an easy decision if it means children have a safer walk to and from school.

About 750 public school sites are in Los Angeles, and nearly 1,000 commercial child care centers are registered with the city. The new public school year begins next Monday.

Opponents of the ban, including homeless advocates, said it would further criminalize homelessness and waste resources better spent on outreach and connecting those in need to services.

Homeless residents are far more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators, the nonprofit organization People Assisting The Homeless, or PATH, said in a statement opposing the measure.

“The enforcement of anti-camping orders therefore only displaces people and makes it more difficult for trained outreach staff to re-establish trust. Residents of evacuated camps, unless they are connected to a stable permanent housing through a trauma-informed case management process, often return to homelessness,” PATH said in a statement.

The measure must be signed by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti before taking effect, and his office did not immediately respond to phone and email messages seeking comment.

The ban comes as several hotels are set to end their involvement in the state’s Roomkey project, which paid hotels to provide hundreds of rooms for homeless people.

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