Crowds descended on Wilshire Boulevard on Thursday afternoon to protest a proposal to open a temporary homeless shelter at a Koreatown parking lot.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on May 2 introduced the plan to have at least 65 beds for homeless people at a city-owned parking lot near Wilshire Boulevard and Vermont Avenue. It was the first project announced in the mayor's $20 million campaign to open three-year emergency shelters across the city.
"The City planned the proposed Mid-Wilshire Homeless Shelter without any input from the community," said a statement from the Wilshire Community Coalition, which organized the latest in a string of rallies since Garcetti's announcement. "No prior informal procedure took place, and no public hearing was held."
Thursday's event blocked Wilshire Boulevard from Vermont Avenue to Normandie Avenue, with several protesters holding "no hearing, no shelter" signs.
One man told KTLA the facility would worsen traffic in the neighborhood. Another said the city skipped due process in proceeding with the proposal.
"I care about [homeless people], but I don't think this is the right plan," Koreatown resident Jenny Nam said. "They should have a [long-term] plan for the city."
The Wilshire Community Coalition said although it wanted to help solve homelessness, the $1.3 million the city was spending on the Koreatown shelter can be spent "in a smarter way that both genuinely helps the homeless population and preserves the safety" of the area.
On Thursday, a Change.org petition against the proposal has garnered more than 9,500 signatures.
City Council president Herb Wesson has expressed his support for Garcetti's campaign, calling the temporary shelters planned for each of the 15 council districts "bold and creative."
The mayor's deputy press secretary, Anna Bahr, sent KTLA the following statement:
No single neighborhood will carry this burden alone, and we're working closely with communities across L.A. to meet this humanitarian crisis with the urgency it demands. What we cannot do is only say ‘no.’ If we have a good place to get emergency shelter up quickly, we need to act fast to bring people indoors to help them start rebuilding their lives.
Officials moved forward with the proposal at a city hall meeting on Tuesday. City staffers now need to conduct and release an assessment that would be reviewed by the City Council, according to the L.A. Times.