LA recommends homeless storage increase, crackdown on sidewalk camps

- Increasing the number of storage bins available for the homeless and cracking down on tents erected on sidewalks were among the recommendations released On Wednesday by City Controller Ron Galperin in an effort to combat the proliferation of homeless encampments.

"L.A.'s encampments are one of the most visible signs that our residents are not being served by the status quo," Galperin said. "The city must act to protect the health, safety and accessibility of all Angelenos, housed and homeless alike. My latest report identifies several ways to optimize our current scarce resources and address the community impact of homeless encampments."

According to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, Los Angeles has more than 34,000 homeless people, a number that rose 20 percent during 2016.

According to Galperin's report, tents are not permitted on city sidewalks between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. and personal property exceeding the equivalent of a 60-gallon container is never allowed in public spaces -- but
both are commonly found.

The report recommended stronger enforcement of tents and bulky items to help stop the spread of encampments.

"It is unpermitted -- but not a crime -- to erect or maintain a tent in public spaces between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. with exceptions during rain and cold temperatures. Disobeying a lawful order from a police or peace officer to
remove a tent, however, is a violation of the law that could be enforced," according to the report.

However, a federal judge on Monday denied the city's request to amend a 2016 injunction that stopped the city from seizing a homeless person's property unless it poses a hazard or danger. The city had asked for allowance to seize "bulky" items larger than 60 gallons, which the City Council had approved as an ordinance after the injunction was issued last year. But the judge ruled that bulky items could only be seized if they present an immediate threat to public health or safety.

Galperin's report also recommended creating more storage bins for the homeless on under-utilized city-owned properties, as well more emergency shelters, designated encampment areas and/or longer term development of affordable and supportive housing.

"While some people in some neighborhoods have strongly opposed storage facilities, the reality is that homeless encampments and residents are already found in nearly every L.A. community. Clean, safe storage will only help to relieve this crisis," according to the report.

The report also recommended:

  • intervening and cleaning before an encampment grows to the point of requiring extensive staffing, environmental protections and involuntary storage;
  • streamlining the cleanup and enforcement process;
  • improving systems of communication and establishing memorandums of understanding between the Los Angeles Sanitation Bureau, the police department and secondary agencies that play a role in cleanups; and
  • assessing protocols related to homeless encampments.

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