On Wednesday a Los Angeles Times investigation revealed that, among other things, fires related to homeless encampments have nearly tripled. According to the paper, in the first four months of this year there were 24 such blazes a day. Those calls accounted for 54% of all fires responded to by LAFD.
Also on Wednesday, in a message to constituents, Los Angeles Councilman Mike Bonin defended his effort to explore housing homeless people in temporary cabins and camping sites in West Side parks and beach parking lots. Bonin represents much of the city’s affluent West Side including Pacific Palisades, Brentwood, Venice, Mar Vista and Westchester.
“These are not encampments. They are an emergency response — an alternative — to encampments, and they are temporary solutions meant to get people off the streets and into homes,” Bonin wrote in an email to constituents. A separate post to his web site explaining his actions was titled “The Truth.”
Candidates for the Westchester/Playa del Rey Neighborhood Council plan to hold a virtual “Meet the Candidates” event Wednesday night, and some residents plan to speak out against Bonin’s proposal, saying it is “permitting homeless to camp in L.A.’s parks where children go,” according to an email by Westchester resident Erik Laykin.
Laykin founded Homeless Help America, an organization that advocates for relocating all of the country’s homeless population into mass camps of 50,000 people each in six states.
Bonin responded Wednesday that his motion is an attempt to move unhoused residents out of parks and beaches and into designated camping and cabin areas in a portion of some parks and county-owned parking lots.
Specifically, Bonin’s motion, which was introduced March 31, would instruct the City Administrative Officer to evaluate the feasibility of and identify funding for:
— temporary single-occupancy tiny homes or a safe camping site at Will Rogers State Beach’s county-owned parking lot at 17000 CA-1 in Pacific Palisades
— temporary single-occupancy tiny homes, a safe camping or safe parking site at Dockweiler Beach’s county owned parking lot number three, at 11999 Vista Del Mar in Playa Del Rey
— a temporary RV safe parking site in the county-owned RV park at Dockweiler Beach, at 12001 Vista Del Mary in Playa Del Rey
— temporary single-occupancy tiny homes or a safe camping site at Fisherman’s Village’s county-owned parking lot, at 13755 Fiji Way in Marina del Rey
If passed, the motion would also instruct the Department of Recreation and Parks to evaluate the feasibility of identifying portions of Mar Vista Park and Westchester Park for safe camping programs, while having the rest of the parks remain open for public use and programs. Los Angeles World Airports would also be instructed to work with the City Administrative Officer to identify and fund an airport-owned site for safe camping, safe parking or tiny homes.
More than 19,000 opponents of the motion have signed a change.org petition against creating camping sites and tiny home sites in westside beaches and parks.
“If the motion is approved by the City Council, people who are homeless because of drugs and mental illness will have the legal right to live in the parking lot at our public beach in Pacific Palisades,” the petition states.
Bonin sent his email to constituents Wednesday in an attempt to dispel what he said were rumors that his motion, which asks only for a report on feasibility, would actually create encampments.
“Some are claiming I have proposed that the city allow homeless encampments at our parks and beaches. That rumor is not true. On the contrary, what I have proposed is designed to reduce encampments, so that our public spaces can return to full public use,” he said.
“What I am proposing is this: While we step up efforts to house people, the city should conduct a feasibility analysis of whether a number of different locations, including LAX land and three beach parking lots, could be
used for different types of temporary emergency shelter. I have also asked that the feasibility analysis consider whether two local parks with existing encampments could restore the bulk of recreational space to public use by designating a certain area for existing unhoused residents. In all cases, the proposed solutions would provide security, sanitation and services, and focus on getting people into housing.”
Bonin’s motion would also explore using a vacant space adjacent to his West L.A. district office in the L.A. Municipal Building, at 1645 Corinth Ave., as a site for temporary shelter for homeless women, according to the
Funding would also be explored for temporary safe camping sites at the privately owned parcel at 5000 Beethoven Avenue in Del Rey and for a temporary single-occupancy tiny home site or safe camping site at a property owned by Culver City.
“None of the locations we’ve identified are ideal, and I’m always open to other suggestions,” Bonin wrote on Twitter in April. “But we’ve looked long and hard. There (are) no ideal places on the westside, but that doesn’t reduce the need or urgency to act.”
You can read Bonin’s web post here.
CNS contributed to this report.
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.