LA City Council expands anti-camping law in Woodland Hills

The Los Angeles City Council in a 9-to-5 vote approved a resolution Wednesday seeking to expand the city's anti-camping law to include two locations in Woodland Hills.

Councilman Bob Blumenfield introduced the resolution to expand the city's anti-camping law, known as section 41.18, to incorporate 5400 Alhama Drive and 5416 Comercio Way. The resolution calls for relevant city departments with jurisdiction over those two streets to post notices and begin enforcement once the posting period ends.

The law allows the city to designate specified areas for enforcement to prevent sitting, lying, sleeping, storing, maintaining, placing personal property and otherwise obstructing the public right-of-way.

Salvador Vazquez, director of sales for Courtyard by Marriott in Woodland Hills, spoke during the public comment section to address the homeless encampments along the backside of the hotel on Clarendon Street, as well encampments on Comercio Way and Alhama Drive.

"Our hotel along with neighboring businesses are growing increasingly impacted by the homeless camps and their individuals. We have experienced loss of employees, guests and business because of run-ins they have experienced with the camps and individuals," Vazquez said.

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Vazquez also described concerns regarding safety and security not only for hotel guests but for the nearby community as well. He called upon City Council members to expand 41.18 and address the encampment.

Other public comments made opposed the resolution and stated it would only further criminalize unhoused individuals. In addition, public speakers claimed Mayor Karen Bass' Inside Safe program would only move those unhoused individuals around different parts of the city and fail to aid them.

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According to a statement from Blumenfield's office, the area has had "serious criminal activity" that the Los Angeles Police Department confirmed stemmed from an encampment there.

"Councilman Blumenfield does regular homeless outreach and his staff is at West Valley encampments every day," Jake Flynn, director of communications for Blumenfield, told City News Service. "This location has continuously gotten more problematic and the recent criminal activity made it applicable for 41.18 buffer zones."

City Council members Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Eunisses Hernandez, Nithya Raman, Hugo Soto-Martínez and Katy Yaroslavksy voted against the resolution.