Column: Ban homeless encampments everywhere? It might have more support than liberals think

Column: Ban homeless encampments everywhere? It might have more support than liberals think


11/27/2021 4:04:00 PM

Column: Ban homeless encampments everywhere? It might have more support than liberals think

A new plan by Councilman Joe Buscaino probably won't work. But even the most liberal of Angelenos seem fed up with homeless people living everywhere.

PrintScott Culbertson is conflicted. Not to mention frustrated. And sad. And disappointed. And, frankly, just fed up.Angelenos, I suspect many of you can relate.For almost two years, the executive director of the Friends of Ballona Wetlands has watched with dismay as an encampment of broken down RVs and buses has become a permanent fixture along Jefferson Boulevard, just west of Lincoln Boulevard in Playa del Rey.

When I spoke to Culbertson over the summer, he told me how the few dozen occupants had been making frequent incursions into the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve and adjacent freshwater marsh, leaving mounds of trash and causing brushfires.Advertisement

has gotten worse, both in terms of the environmental damage and the equally obvious, but far less measurable — and far more important — human suffering. I live nearby and see it every day.Culbertson had pinned his hopes on promises by the city to do regular cleanups of the encampment. And for the most part, the city has followed through. It just doesn’t look like it.

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“Everybody who is living along there, they know the game now,” he told me a few hours after a pointless pre-Thanksgiving cleanup. “As soon as the L.A. sanitation workers leave, everybody puts their stuff right back out.”These past few months have left Culbertson at a loss for what do next, other than wait for action on a couple of

new city policiesthat could beef up enforcement.“Even the most liberal folks, like me, have begun to lose patience with the homelessness situation,” he admitted.::I thought about my conversation with Culbertson while listening to L.A. City Councilman Joe Buscaino on Tuesday, as he pitched a specious ballot measure that would bar homeless people from sleeping or camping in all public spaces if they have turned down shelter or housing.

“We all agree that the only solution to homelessness is housing,” he told his fellow council members. “Why would we continue to allow someone to continue to live on public property if a safer, healthier alternative is available? When we allow camping in public even when safer alternatives exist, we’re allowing someone’s addiction to take their lives.”

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Buscaino wants to give whoever is mayor the authority to waive land-use and zoning rules “to urgently site homeless housing projects,” and ramp up the construction of emergency shelters.“Contrary to what you’re hearing from advocates and others, this is not criminalizing someone for having no place to sleep,” he said Tuesday. “If there’s no appropriate shelter available, there will be no enforcement.”

Buscaino claims he is being driven by “mercy” and “compassion” for the tens of thousands of Angelenos who are living on sidewalks and under freeway bridges. But he also is running for mayor on a platform of cracking down on encampments.Los Angeles mayoral candidate Joe Buscaino at a news conference in June on the Venice Boardwalk, where he announced his plans to address homelessness.

(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)Moreover, he has a habit of insinuating that many homeless people won’t accept help because they are struggling with drugs or mentally illness when, in reality, many are just too poor to afford housing. So there are plenty of reasons to question the purity of his motives.

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It’s not entirely surprising, then, that the City Council punted. Rather than approve or reject Buscaino’s request to have the city attorney draft language for his ballot measure, they shipped it to the Homelessness and Poverty Committee for an overhaul.

Some, including Councilman Mike Bonin, were particularly uneasy with its focus on enforcement and the prospect of forcing homeless people, en masse, into temporary emergency housing.“Do we want to solve homelessness? Or do we want to address the problem of homeless encampments? This does the latter,” he said of the proposed ballot measure. “Homeless encampments are unacceptable, and they’re unsafe and they’re unsanitary. But the way to get rid of homeless encampments is to get rid of homelessness ... by giving people housing.”

If only L.A. were ready for all that.In response to the council’s action, Buscaino’s campaign vowed to collect the 65,000 signatures necessary to put the measure before voters on the June 2022 ballot. He also criticized his colleagues in a campaign email, saying they “are more interested in the right to sleep on the sidewalk than the right to housing.”

Buscaino aims for November 2022 for anti-camping ballot measure after council defers actionBuscaino’s measure would prohibit people from sleeping or camping on sidewalks and other public spaces if they have turned down offers of shelter.What’s striking about this rhetoric is how similar it is to what Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg has been saying lately. And Steinberg, in contrast to Buscaino, is known in political circles for having compassion for the unhoused, both as author of California’s Mental Health Services Act and as co-chair of a statewide task force on homelessness.

Earlier this month, the mayor introduced what he calls a“right to housing.”It would require the city to provide enough permanent housing or, more likely, temporary shelter — be it sanctioned tent cities, hotel rooms or tiny homes — for every homeless person by 2023 or face possible lawsuits.

In return, homeless people would be required to accept whatever shelter or housing is offered by outreach workers. No cops would be involved.Steinberg’s plan has gone over better with the Sacramento City Council than Buscaino’s has with the L.A. City Council. But in both cities, homeless activists and progressives are united in their opposition.

“I understand the fear ... that this is just a hidden way to deal with the tent encampment issue and clean up the city,” Steinberg said during a recent council meeting. “My motive is not to make life harder for people, it’s to get people indoors because I think living outdoors in these tent encampments is horrible.”

And like Buscaino, he also has criticized those who would defend the right for people to sleep outdoors.Indeed, up and down the state, elected officials are trying to figure out what to do with encampments. The degrees of aggressiveness vary. But they all want to be able to move lots of unhoused people from where they are to other mostly temporary locations, and then clean the streets.

The trend seems driven by a collective understanding that this post-pandemic reality of homeless people living everywhere is unsustainable. And more importantly, it’s also a tacit admission that, despite the valiant politicking and taxpayer dollars being spent, the permanent and affordable housing that California’s elected officials keep promising as a solution will likely take years, not months, to build.

In that way, the difference between what Steinberg wants to do and what Busciano wants to do is basically splitting hairs. As it is with what L.A. is already doing byaround parks and libraries after offering all of the occupants housing or shelter.

Read more: Los Angeles Times »

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Then, out of desperation, they’ll break into your houses, and you’ll have to hire more cops. LA times needs a charlie hebdo Maybe you could make them wear black triangle badges too. ratio also fuck you This is such an embarrassing ivory white tower take. Delete your account. It is illegal to own another man it should be illegal to own another man’s home. CriminalizeRent collection on primary residences.

'Hunting poor people for sport? İt might have more support than liberals think.' we should ban private property instead Ban the la times everywhere Read it. 'Buscaino wants to give whoever is mayor the authority to waive land-use and zoning rules “to urgently site homeless housing projects,” and ramp up the construction of emergency shelters. 1/2

yes! Ban them for everyone’s health & safety

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Yes ban it . Or at least have an area where they can park their vehicles , not on the side of public roads Yes ban this shit!!!! I live in Venice, and it's not the homeless who are thw problem, it's the (housed) criminals who hide out amongst them. We also need better resources for people who choose to stay on the street. Let ppl live in their tents if they want to and they're not hurting anyone.

Yes. The city had years and millions to do the right thing. They didn’t. Rather, Bonin and his peers killed innovative, affordable and immediate solutions, leaving people to rot on the streets while they amassed power and enriched their donors. Yuk. Yes, take the *transition housing* option w/ rules, or you are out Sorry, no more messing around, tough love ❤️ live in society & follow the rules or find a different place to live

Maybe the money HOARDERS should start sharing their wealth. After all it is no good if you cannot spend it or buy anything with it! Rich people are making money have no value! Duh Bitcoin?! Really. Time to move them to where it’s more affordable, they can have public assistance and getting off the streets, vs failed social programs that politicians and developers profit without showing any reductions in homeless numbers, how many homeless die because of false compassion?

Yes please. I'd support this if the city spent money on housing and services. There is so much empty real estate in Los Angeles - and plenty of taxable millionaires who can fund it.

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The people who are affected and deal with these homeless people are the hardworking middle and lower class ! Trust me they are fed up and it’s disrespectful to all those people ! Make no mistake the people who defend homeless the most are the people who live in areas not affected by them I promise! They can't help it. Ban billionaires and build shelters with the excess.

The communities with the least amount of homelessness and crime have the most resources not the most cops. LA county's are currently underfunded and stretched thin. Supportive and low income housing is backed up for years. Just because it has support doesn't make it moral It can happen to anyone. Show some compassion.

Poverty isn't a crime. They will criminalize poverty. Lock up the poor people. Stocking for-profit prisons so shareholders become billionaires. GQP christians disagree with Jesus about poor ppl.

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Will only push it in to another area. Ending poverty would be great.

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