Los Angeles has long been locked in battles over where and how people can bed down on its streets and sidewalks — a debate that has played out for decades in City Hall, in the courts and on avenues lined with squalid tents and bedrolls.
The city has been brushed back in court by homeless advocates, who argue that it is cruel and useless to punish people if they have nowhere else to sleep. Last year, those advocates hailed a federal ruling against a Boise, Idaho, law that prohibited sleeping on the street, saying the ruling cemented their earlier victories in Los Angeles and set a crucial precedent across the western United States.
Now L.A. politicians are weighing a new set of rules that could bar people from sitting or sleeping on streets and sidewalks near schools, parks and day care centers, and in a range of other prohibited areas — an idea that has drawn fire from homeless advocates.
With tens of thousands of people bedding down on the streets — far more than the city can house in new homeless housing or shelters built to date — “You can’t do this and expect that you’ll have something that’s enforceable,” said attorney Carol Sobel.
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