Lancaster declares emergency over LA Mayor Bass' plan for 'mass movement of homeless' to Antelope Valley

A state of emergency has been declared in the City of Lancaster over Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass' plan for a "mass movement of homeless individuals to the Antelope Valley."

In a statement, Mayor R. Rex Parris said the city is taking immediate action and called Bass' plan "irresponsible and inhumane." 

"I strongly oppose Mayor Bass’ plan to move the LA homeless population to a village in the Antelope Valley. This kind of inhumane and degrading treatment of individuals who are already struggling is unacceptable and must be stopped. How can you claim that your city is a sanctuary city while sending your own citizens away," said Mayor Parris. "Instead of isolating and ostracizing people who are homeless, we should be providing them with the support and resources they need to get back on their feet. We must reject this cruel and misguided approach and work towards a more compassionate and effective solution to homelessness."


"In Mayor Bass’ recent speech about her plan to curb the LA homeless problem, what she failed to mention is a relocation strategy, which wouldn’t adequately solve the issue and one that we stand firmly against," Parris added.

When asked about possibly moving the homeless from LA to the Antelope Valley Tuesday, Bass appeared to have rejected the notion – but did not explicitly deny the plan.

Bass explained her plan is to build affordable housing in Los Angeles' city proper, not Lancaster in the brief Q&A exchange with a reporter below:

The action dates back to earlier this year when then-Congresswoman Bass said in an Los Angeles Times interview that she wanted to create clinics for people with mental illness in the county. 

"There’s a big chunk of land in Palmdale and maybe we could create a village out there," Bass was quoted saying.

"Moving homeless individuals to Palmdale and the Antelope Valley will only serve to create new problems for the homeless community in these areas, such as a lack of affordable housing and adequate resources to properly address mental health and addiction issues. Lancaster City Council stated Tuesday night that instead of moving the homeless out of sight, Mayor Bass and the city should focus on providing them with the resources and support needed in their home communities," Perris said.

He added that this could lead to an uptick in crime, safety concerns, and more problems for local residents and businesses.

Appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press," Bass, who declared a state of emergency on homelessness on her first day in office, was asked how her declaration would differ from a similar action taken by former Mayor Eric Garcetti in 2015.

"It's not just about the money — of course money is needed — but it's really about the arcane bureaucratic process. You talk to developers and it's just so difficult to get anything done," Bass said, citing a news conference she recently held at a housing project where the builder had been working for 16 years.

The emergency declaration — which is scheduled to last six months — allows Bass to take more aggressive executive actions to confront the crisis, though the City Council will have to sign off on it every 30 days. Whether to continue the state of emergency will be evaluated by several indicators of progress, including the number of encampments and housing placements, and how much more flexibility city departments are allowed through the declaration.

Bass said the "Inside Safe" program would get "people to move on their own" and would not involve sweeps. It will use master leasing with motels near encampments to place unhoused people.

She also issued a sweeping directive on Friday requiring all departments responsible for processing affordable housing and shelter applications to complete all reviews within 60 days. Such reviews typically take six to nine months, city officials said.

During her campaign, Bass repeatedly stressed that homelessness and public safety were the two key issues at the top of her agenda as mayor. One of her campaign promises was to house 15,000 people by the end of her first year, as well as build more temporary, affordable, and permanent housing. Her goals also included ending street encampments, reducing homelessness and focusing on mental health and substance abuse services.