Councilman Joe Buscaino seeks ban on homeless encampments near all LA public schools

Councilman and mayoral candidate Joe Buscaino Monday announced his plan to introduce a resolution to ban encampments around public schools as part of the city's new sweeping anti-camping law.

The ordinance -- which goes into effect on Sept. 3 -- modifies the city's current anti-camping law in Municipal Code 41.18, to prohibit sitting, sleeping, lying, storing personal property or otherwise obstructing the public right of way in several areas of the city, including within two feet of any fire hydrant or fire plug; within five feet of any operational or utilizable entrance or exit; within 10 feet of a loading dock or driveway; in a manner that interferes with any activity for which the city has issued a permit or restricts accessible passage as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act; or anywhere within a street, including bike paths.

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The ordinance also protects the public right of way within 500 feet of a "sensitive" facility, including schools, once the City Council passes a resolution to designate a specific area for enforcement, posts signage and gives notice of the date that the ordinance will be enforced.

Speaking Monday morning at Larchmont Charter School, Buscaino announced he will introduce a resolution that includes all Los Angeles public schools.

On Thursday, the Los Angeles City Council's Homelessness and Poverty Committee advanced a motion to approve recommendations for a Street Engagement Strategy to accompany a sweeping ordinance to restrict sleeping and homeless encampments in certain areas of the city.

That motion will next be reviewed by the Energy, Climate Change, Environmental Justice, and River Committee, but Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, chair of the Homelessness and Poverty Committee, said the goal is to have the full council approve the motion before the ordinance goes into effect on Sept. 3.

RELATED: LA mayor signs ordinance to restrict homeless encampments

The ordinance was approved by the City Council, with two council members dissenting on July 28, and signed by Mayor Eric Garcetti the next day.

Assistant City Administrative Officer Yolanda Chavez told committee members that the office recommends a concentrated engagement process be implemented before enforcing the ordinance for encampments in areas that require a resolution and posted signage, which includes within 500 feet of schools, day care facilities, parks and libraries.

To start, the Street Engagement Strategy recommendations would serve as a pilot program at one site in each district until the CAO reports on the success of the pilot in February, and further action is taken to add engagement resources. If the City Council approves the pilot, enforcement of the ordinance -- in locations requested by resolution from council members -- would not occur outside of the location of the outreach pilot program in each district, Chavez said.

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