The Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday to draft new rules barring homeless people from camping near schools, parks, libraries and other “sensitive” facilities, a sudden change in direction for a city struggling to address a humanitarian crisis while also restoring access to its public spaces.
On a 12 to 3 vote, council members asked the city’s lawyers to quickly draw up a law prohibiting sleeping, lying and storing possessions near a variety of public facilities, including public schools and homeless shelters. It also would bar tents and encampments from blocking sidewalks in ways that prevent wheelchairs users from traveling on them, in violation of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.
The proposal, which is expected to face another vote on Thursday, had not been included on Tuesday’s council agenda or the accompanying documents. Council members had been scheduled instead to consider another anti-camping measure, one that was drawn up in October but failed to secure council support.
Backers of the new proposed ordinance described it as a humane alternative to the previous measure, saying it would limit the involvement of law enforcement, require 14 days notice that camping is barred in a particular location and seek to have homeless people comply voluntarily. But they also argued that it would help Angelenos regain public spaces currently occupied by tents, furniture or other possessions.
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