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The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday approved an ordinance banning homeless encampments within 500 feet of schools and day care centers.

The measure passed by a vote of 11 to 3, with council members Mike Bonin, Nitya Raman and Marquis Harris-Dawson dissenting.

The ordinance changes a city ordinance that regulates where homeless encampments can be located. Municipal Code 41.18 prohibits sitting, lying, lying or otherwise obstructing a public right-of-way in many areas.

The council voted 10 to 1 in favor of the ordinance last month, with Bonin the lone dissenter. However, the initial vote was not unanimous, requiring a second vote on Tuesday to pass the measure.

LA City Council bans greenlights on homeless encampments within 500 feet of schools, daycare centers

People at a homeless camp in Toriumi Plaza at First St. and Judge John Iso St. in Los Angeles.

People at a homeless camp in Toriumi Plaza at First St. and Judge John Iso St. in Los Angeles.
(Getty Images via Hans Gutknecht/MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News))

In addition to banning camps near schools and daycares, the ordinance expands Municipal Code 41.18 to allow camping within 2 feet of a fire hydrant or fire plug, within 5 feet of any operational or usable entrance or exit, within 10 feet of a loading dock or other portion of a driveway or bike path or street. .

It also imposes a ban on conduct that interferes with city-issued activities or anything that restricts an accessible route in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Existing law already protects the public right of way within 500 feet of “sensitive” facilities, including schools, daycare centers, parks and libraries – although this part of the law only applies if each specific location is designated by the council for enforcement.

The amendment was previously approved by the council’s homelessness and poverty committee.

Proponents of the ordinance say it keeps children safe. Council member Mitch O’Farrell also argued at the council meeting that claiming the homeless have nowhere to go is wrong. He said the city has many successful and robust programs to help the homeless.

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A homeless woman wearing a veil stands near a tent near the Eco Park lake.

A homeless woman wearing a veil stands near a tent near the Eco Park lake.
(Reuters/David Swanson)

“I’m going to stand up for this conference,” O’Farrell said. “Everyone here is kind, deeply caring for the most vulnerable among us. I’m not going to buy into the rhetoric that we’re monsters, we’re murderers or anything like that. It’s all nonsense. I’m not going to accept that false narrative anymore. Never accept.”

But Bonin contends that the ordinance is based on the false premise that homeless people are refusing to move into housing and that the city has enough room for them. He claimed that 60% of people living on the streets of Los Angeles are unsheltered.

“It’s not a question of whether or not you approve of having camps near schools,” Bonin said. “Nobody wants a camp near schools or daycares. Nobody wants a camp anywhere.”

He said the ordinance is a “distraction from where our focus needs to be,” such as moving to end homelessness.

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A jogger walks past a homeless encampment in Los Angeles, California.

A jogger walks past a homeless encampment in Los Angeles, California.
(AP)

Earlier this year, Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said the measure was approved after teachers, principals and parents complained about homeless encampments near schools.

“I have seen elementary schools that none of us as parents would find acceptable for children. Individuals with mental illness, some of them completely unclothed, yelling obscenities within earshot of the children,” Carvalho told the council at the time.

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Violators of the ordinance are subject to a violation or citation. But a person who “willfully resists, delays or obstructs the enforcement of this section by a city employee or refuses to comply after being requested to do so by an authorized city employee” may face increased fines and misdemeanor charges.