Councilman Buscaino seeks to resume LA ban on sidewalk encampments during daytime; Councilman Lee seconds motion

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino requested Wednesday that the city resume its ban on sidewalk encampments.

Buscaino requested the City Council amend the mayor’s Declaration of Local Emergency and resume enforcement of Los Angeles Municipal Code Section 56.11, which regulates the storage of personal property in public areas. It prohibits people from configuring a tent in any public area from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., except when raining, or if the temperature dips below 50 degrees.

The mayoral candidate’s request came as the City Council was scheduled to vote on a routine extension of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Declaration of Local Emergency that was put in place on March 4, 2020, and has been extended month-to-month since. The declaration includes a suspension of enforcing the ordinance.

“I’d like all of us to reconsider the suspension of banning encampments on our sidewalks. COVID is essentially over, we’re getting ready to reopen our economy, people are actually going to Dodger games nowadays,” Buscaino said, noting that he recognizes the city needs to extend the Declaration of Local Emergency for federal funding purposes.

“We are in a public health emergency and need to do our job to reinstitute commonsense rules for our public spaces.”

A representative for the City Attorney’s Office told Buscaino that the City Council does not have the power to amend the declaration before the vote, and that Buscaino would have to introduce a motion.

“The agenda item before us really has nothing to do with the issues that Mr. Buscaino just described as wanting to put into motion,” said Councilman Paul Krekorian. “This is a legal issue that governs the powers that the mayor and the city have during a time of emergency.”

Buscaino soon after introduced a motion to rescind the suspension of enforcement of Los Angeles Municipal Code Section 56.11 and require tents to be taken down during daytime hours. The motion was seconded by Councilman John Lee.

Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas said that Buscaino’s motion doesn’t solve the problems that have led to homelessness.

“The most effective way to address the homelessness crisis in LA is to construct a Right to Housing — plain and simple. And this begins with homeless service agencies providing street-based engagement to deal with what we see on the sidewalks, beaches and along the freeways,” Ridley-Thomas said in a press release.

“We can not just restrict where and how the unhoused occupy public spaces — we must stay laser focused on offering these Angelenos decent housing options and the support services needed to get people back on their feet,” said Ridley-Thomas. “Focusing on enforcement alone diverts our attention from the real solutions needed to end this crisis, and may further make matters worse.”

Daily News Staff contributed to this report.

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