What’s next: LA ban on sitting, lying down and sleeping on sidewalks will launch Sept. 3

What’s next: LA ban on sitting, lying down and sleeping on sidewalks will launch Sept. 3

A law that will arm Los Angeles city officials with a tool for clearing encampments by allowing them to set up zones in which living on sidewalks and other public right-of-way areas would be prohibited, will officially go into effect Sept. 3, according to the City Clerk.

The City Council, which approved the ordinance on Wednesday, July 28, before it was signed the next day by Mayor Eric Garcetti, is also expected to consider a “street engagement strategy” in which outreach teams would work to provide shelter or housing to those now living in public areas, before clearing encampments.

Under the law, known as as Los Angeles Municipal Code 41.18, a resolution must be passed before a zone banning sitting, sleeping, lying down and storing property, in the public right-of-way can be drawn and enforced.

City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, who chairs the Homelessness and Poverty Committee, is pushing for protocols to be adopted as part of the process for engaging people living in encampments, before starting enforcement on zones where such resolutions have been passed.

“If we wish to see a sustainable way to reduce the crisis of homelessness in our city, we have to have a much more robust and much more imaginative and much more extensive level of outreach, and activities on the street that transitions people from the streets into decent appropriate and dignified housing options,” Ridley-Thomas remarked just before the approval of 41.18.

City Administrative Officer Matt Szabo released the first installment of a proposed strategy, just an hour before the 41.18 ban was to be considered and later passed by the City Council. On Wednesday, he acknowledged that the council likely had not had an opportunity to look through the report “in detail yet,” but added there should be time later to discuss in future meetings.

“The report does make a number of recommendations for processes for street engagement, building on best practices from a number of organizations around the city in the county a number of your offices directly,” Szabo said.

The strategy now calls for “strong coordination, ample time for engagement, availability of housing resources, transparency and adequate notice, and consistency.”

Council aides say they are consulting with community groups and advocates and service providers to continue refining these proposed protocols, which could be adopted as part of the implementation of 41.18 as well as in other contexts. The strategy is expected to be discussed in the Homelessness and Poverty Committee meeting in August.

The ordinance — also known as an anti-camping law or a sit-lie ban — that was passed this week, and expected to go into effect at the start of September, is the latest in a series of laws that have been revised in recent years, and put back into commission, after being suspended or limited in some way due to legal challenges by homeless advocates. Such laws are often used to regulate and restrict homeless encampments or dwellings throughout the city.

Others that have returned to use in recent years, after revisions, have been LAMC 56.11, which restricts people from keeping tents up during the day, and LAMC 85.02, which restricts the places where people dwelling in vehicles can park.

The prohibitions in 41.18 would allow enforcement sites to happen around many locations, including homeless shelters and services facilities, tunnels, under- and overpasses, bridges, freeway ramps, railways, washes, spreading grounds, as well as near so-called “sensitive use” sites such as daycares, schools, public parks and libraries.

UCLA researchers working in the area of public health released a map on Monday, that indicated that potentially 40% of the city could become off-limits. The researchers also pointed to scarce housing and shelter availability, which could make it difficult for the unhoused to comply with restrictions, and they noted that laws criminalizing homelessness run counter to the aims of public health.

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