LA Leaders Finally Address Homeless Camps Near Schools, Daycare Centers

The homeless problem across the greater Los Angeles area has become so pervasive in recent months that young students have been forced to step around and over individuals living outside of public schools and daycare facilities.

City council members decided to address the issue during a recent meeting by approving a new ordinance that will make it illegal for homeless camps to be established within 500 feet of such buildings.

Eleven members voted for the new amendment, which is added to an existing ordinance that outlaws the obstruction of the public. Three members voted against it.

As the council met to discuss the issue on Tuesday, a large group of activists gathered to protest and attempted to disrupt the meeting. Council President Nury Martinez denounced the “incredibly disturbing” demonstration organized by individuals affiliated with organizations including Street Watch L.A. and the L.A. Tenants Union.

Martinez, a Democrat, said that the protest “was really an attempt to try and keep us from taking a vote,” adding that “people were intent this morning to shut this place down and keep us from doing the very job that we were all elected to do.”

Protesters engaged in loud chants and held up signs that accused council members of effectively signing a death warrant for the city’s homeless population. Speaking on behalf of the council, Mitch O’Farrell insisted that the demonstrators had their facts wrong.

“I’m going to stand up for this council,” the elected official said. “Everyone here is compassionate, deeply caring of people who are the most vulnerable among us. I’m not going to buy into this rhetoric that we’re monsters, that we’re murderers or anything like that. It’s all nonsense.”

Parents across the city have become increasingly concerned about the prevalence of violence and drug use in areas where their children are supposed to be learning and playing.

Some of the protesters during the recent council meeting argued that the homeless problem is so extensive that there is no feasible way for local authorities to even enforce the new restriction.

Ruben Garcia of the Los Angeles Community Action Network claimed that council members were “putting on a little show” and asked: “What are they going to do, arrest people for being homeless?”

Mike Bonin, one of the three dissenting council votes, explained why he believes the measure is a misguided effort to address homelessness in the city.

“This is not a question of whether or not you approve of having encampments near schools,” he said. “Nobody wants encampments near schools or daycares. Nobody wants encampments anywhere.”

The latest vote, Bonin claimed, was merely a “distraction from where our focus needs to be,” which is reducing the number of homeless individuals in Los Angeles.