Los Angeles Move to Limit Homeless Encampments Raises Concerns of Criminalization

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The Los Angeles City Council passed a sweeping anti-camping measure to remove widespread homeless encampments that have become an eyesore across the city, a move that they see as a compassionate approach to get people off streets and restore access to public spaces, but that critics argue would criminalize the problem, reports the Associated Press. Among other limits, the ordinance that passed 13-2 would ban sitting, lying, sleeping or storing personal property that blocks sidewalks, streets and bike lanes or near driveways, fire hydrants, schools, daycare centers, libraries, homeless shelters and parks.

It wouldn’t be enforced in some locations until someone has turned down an offer of shelter and the council has passed a resolution placing that space off-limits, posting signs and giving two weeks’ notice. It could be enforced immediately if a person or tent is blocking handicap access guaranteed under the Americans with Disabilities Act or placing themselves or others in danger such as blocking a loading dock. The measure, which requires a second vote in late July, replaces a more punitive anti-camping proposal that stalled in a committee. Under the ordinance approved, police would only get involved if there’s a crime, and people who resist leaving would be fined rather than arrested. People who opposed the measure said it lacked compassion and would criminalize a problem the city has failed to solve.

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