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LA leaders end Mike Bonin’s embrace of encampments on the Westside

The Los Angeles City Council voted this week to impose on the Westside the city’s anti-camping law, known as the 41.18 ordinance, which bans sitting, sleeping and storing property within 500 feet of schools, day-care centers, parks, recreation centers.

Former councilmember Mike Bonin refused to enforce the 41.18 ordinance in District 11 including Venice and much of the Westside, a controversial approach to homelessness that played a key role in the election last November of Traci Park over Erin Darling, to replace the outgoing Bonin.

Park supports 41.18 and on Wednesday, Feb. 17 she assured those impacted by the area’s encampments, “We will not do enforcement until every individual living on the street has the opportunity to come inside.” Park said her office “has the beds” for those who will be impacted by the law.

Park said her office “has the beds” for those who will be impacted by the law.

“I am well aware of our legal obligation to lead with offers of services and housing,” Park said. “It is also our moral obligation, and it is what we will do in my district.”

Bonin had repeatedly voted against the 41.18 ordinance and its expansion, joining critics who claimed that the law “criminalizes” homelessness, forces unhoused people to move from block to block and disconnects them from services.

During her campaign, Park said she would not only enforce the 41.18 ordinance, but would seek to expand it to apply to high fire-risk areas such as canyons and hillsides, and environmentally sensitive habitat areas such as the Ballona Wetlands.

She stressed that the ordinance is “not a solution to homelessness” but rather a “matter of public safety.”

Since taking office, Park has worked with Mayor Karen Bass on the mayor’s Inside Safe program to move residents of encampments indoors. Several Inside Safe initiatives have launched in the Westside in recent weeks.

The council also approved five 41.18 zones in the North Hollywood area, represented by Council President Paul Krekorian. Krekorian said there is capacity in the facilities in his district to accommodate anyone who might be impacted when encampments are closed down in those areas.

The public comment period in the council chamber on Wednesday was dominated by supporters of the anti-camping law, with Westside residents complaining about the number of encampments around them.

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The council voted 9-4 in favor of applying the 41.18 ordinance on the Westside and in North Hollywood,. Voting against it were councilmembers Katy Yaroslavsky, Nithya Raman, Marqueece Harris-Dawson and Hugo Soto-Martinez. Raman and Harris-Dawson have regularly opposed the ordinance, and Soto-Martinez campaigned against 41.18.

Yaroslavsky, a politically moderate councilmember, said she needed more information on how the city was enforcing the law. “It’s not clear that we’re making credible offers of housing and services as we apply it across our 15 districts,” she said. “It needs to be part of a coordinated engagement strategy.”

Yaroslavsky introduced a motion Wednesday calling for reports on the effectiveness of the 41.18 ordinance across the city, including a list and map of locations where it is being enforced, how much it is costing the city and the number of people provided with housing through 41.18-driven engagement, who remain housed.

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