Homeless encampments have begun cropping up near schools throughout the city of Los Angeles, even despite a citywide ban on any such encampments near public areas, as reported by the Epoch Times.
The Los Angeles City Council had previously passed a new resolution, Ordinance 41.18, which was signed into law by Mayor Eric Garcetti (D-Calif.), forbidding any such homeless camps from being set up within 500 feet of “sensitive-use” areas, including schools, daycares, libraries, and parks. The ordinance also banned such camps from forming near freeway overpasses and underpasses, ramps, tunnels, and bridges.
But in order for the ordinance to be enforced, each individual district’s councilmember must introduce a motion to do so, which then must be approved by the council. As such, homeless encampments have begun sprouting up near schools in the Venice Beach neighborhood, which falls under District 11; that district is represented by Councilman Mike Bonin (D-Calif.), who has a history of refusing to enforce anti-homeless measures for other districts, and has not yet introduced any such measures to protect his own district.
On December 23rd, a resident of Venice Beach posted a tweet containing two pictures of a growing homeless camp near Saint Mark School, a Catholic elementary school; on December 21st, there was a single tent on the sidewalk, while there were two tents the next day.
“Encampment across from [the school] is growing daily, again,” the resident wrote. “Now [Bonin] won’t be happy until the sidewalk is completely blocked by hard drug users that scream profanities and/or assault families on the way to church or school…AGAIN.”
Rick Swinger, an activist in the Venice Beach neighborhood who focuses on public safety issues, had similar criticism for Bonin, declaring that “Bonin has lost control and his inactions are causing huge safety issues around our schools and neighborhoods.”
“This ordinance to limit unregulated camping is a useful tool to guard our schools but Bonin refuses to use it, creating chaos and crime instead of peace,” Swinger continued.
Similar problems in other districts have been resolved through successful use of the ordinance, proving the new law’s efficiency. On December 15th, police officers responded to a call about a homeless encampment underneath Interstate 10, near the Downtown Value Charter School; the tents on the sidewalk were forcing students walking to school to walk in the street, putting them at risk of walking through traffic.
Officers were dispatched to set up clear passage for the children in the street over the next few days, before the camp was eventually cleaned out. This came after Councilman Gil Cedillo (D-Calif.) of District 1, which represents the area, designated the underpass as an area in need of enforcement via the ordinance on December 8th.
Bonin’s record of favoring the homeless instead of his own constituents has led to widespread backlash, including two recall attempts; while the first such attempt in 2017 failed due to not acquiring enough signatures, the latest effort in November of this year garnered over 39,000 signatures, which means it will likely result in a recall election after verification by the Los Angeles City Clerk’s office.