Los Angeles anti-encampment ordinance takes effect

Local news

The controversial new anti-camping ordinance went into effect in Los Angeles on Friday, though not much is expected to change in the short term.

Opponents of the new law, which bars homeless encampments from specific areas such as schools and parks, argue that it criminalizes homelessness. Protests have targeted Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti for signing it.

While it has gone into effect, the hotly debated bill won’t create noticeable changes immediately, as it requires the City Council to first approve the areas where encampments won’t be allowed.

The process for selecting and approving those areas is still being worked out, as is the process for creating necessary signage.

Outreach to people experiencing homelessness in the areas that will be selected by the council must also be undertaken before anyone can be cited — not arrested — for violating the ordinance.

That strategy also must still be approved by the council, though it was approved in committee Thursday.

The framework is expected to face the full council in about two weeks.

In the meantime, Council President Nury Martinez, Garcetti and the Los Angeles Police Department released a joint statement on Friday, promising to focus on both “keeping our public spaces safe and clean, and connecting Angelenos experiencing homelessness with the services and housing they need.”

“We can and will do both, as we respond to this crisis in a way that is compassionate and responsive to the urgent needs in our communities,” the statement read.

The statement also promised that “the Council, the Mayor’s Office and the LAPD will continue an ongoing education campaign to inform our communities regarding the ordinance requirements.”

Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas, who chairs the council’s Homelessness and Poverty Committee, wants the engagement strategy adopted “swiftly,” he said in a statement.

“Without a Street Engagement Strategy in place, we will not make a difference on our streets,” Ridley-Thomas said. “We will simply shuffle unhoused residents throughout the city, from one neighborhood to another. I believe the City Council’s top priority should be to approve the Street Engagement Strategy at its next meeting.”

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