L.A. councilmen seek report on homeless compliance in neighboring cities

Two Los Angeles councilmen asked Wednesday for a report on whether neighboring cities are illegally barring homeless people from camping on sidewalks or in other public areas, possibly prompting transients to migrate into Los Angeles.

City Councilmen Mike Bonin and Joe Buscaino contend in a motion that some homeless people in Los Angeles have reported that "they are forbidden by police in neighboring cities from sleeping on sidewalks there, and are directed to Los Angeles sidewalks.''

The motion asks the city attorney to report on what legal steps the city can take to compel neighboring cities to comply with a federal ruling that allows homeless people camp on public property when there is no other adequate shelter is provided.

The motion also asks the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority and the city attorney to report on whether area municipalities are complying with the ruling.

Related: Homelessness spikes up 12 percent in LA County, roughly 59,000 living on the streets

The proposal is expected to be heard by the council's Homelessness and Poverty Committee in the coming weeks.

"It is maddening to hear reports from un-housed neighbors about how they are forbidden by police in neighboring cities from sleeping on sidewalks there and are directed to Los Angeles sidewalks,'' Bonin, whose district includes Venice, said in a statement.

"This is unfair and unjust and results in neighborhoods in Los Angeles being asked to bear the burden of solving homelessness for the entire region. Homelessness is not a problem that can be solved by pushing people into another neighborhood. We need to be on the same page as our neighbors and working collaboratively and collectively toward sustainable solutions to this urgent crisis.''

Buscaino, who was an LAPD officer for 15 years, said the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' 2018 decision in a case known as Martin v. City of Boise clearly requires cities to allow public camping if no shelter space is available.

"The court was unequivocal -- cities that enforce anti-camping ordinances without providing alternative shelter are violating the Constitution's protections against cruel and unusual punishment,'' Buscaino

"If we're going to end this crisis once and for all, all cities need to step up and do their part to provide housing and services for their most vulnerable residents, not just push them out."

The councilmen noted that Los Angeles is complying with the court ruling, allowing homeless people to camp on city sidewalks between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.

The motion came a day after the release of numbers showing the city's homeless population had risen 16 percent since 2018, with a total of about 36,300 now living in the city's limits.

CNS contributed to this report