By a 13-2 vote Wednesday, the Los Angeles City Council approved an ordinance that would prevent sidewalk camping in many areas.
Councilman Mike Bonin and Councilwoman Nithya Raman voted against the measure.
Mayor Eric Garcetti signed the ordinance Thursday.
The affected public spaces include the areas around parks, schools, homeless shelters, bridges and overpasses, and other similar structures, as well as any encampment that would block sidewalks in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Opponents argue that the ordinance criminalizes homelessness, though City Councilman Paul Koretz pushed back against that notion in the Wednesday council meeting.
“This ordinance, by itself, does not criminalize homelessness. What it does is… [it] creates a new framework to keep portions of our public right-of-way accessible to everyone,” Koretz said.
Outside Los Angeles City Hall, activist Eddie Cruz pointed out that this ordinance “is targeting a specific group of people” in the unhoused community.
“We believe that this is an irresponsible attack from the City Council and an irresponsible way to deal with the homelessness crisis that is occurring in Los Angeles,” Cruz said.
Councilman Mitch O’Farrell said in a statement that the ordinance “helps regulate shared public spaces while acting with compassion and purpose to help put people experiencing homelessness on a path to wellness.”
“This ordinance establishes fair and clearly defined rules for how sidewalks in Los Angeles are regulated — while linking those rules to a comprehensive, compassionate strategy for street engagement that will establish reasonable pathways to positive outcomes and, ultimately, permanent homes,” O’Farrell said.
“Today’s action will ensure sidewalks are passable, fire hydrants are accessible, doorways and driveways are clear,” Councilman Joe Buscaino added in a statement. “This a great step in the right direction, but I still don’t think this ordinance is enough. We must still pass a law that says you cannot camp on the sidewalk if you have been offered housing.”
Editor’s note: This story was updated to reflect Mayor Eric Garcetti’s signature of the ordinance.