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Occupy Long Beach faces park ordinance hurdle

Occupy long Beach

This post has been corrected. Please see the note at the bottom for details.

The eviction of Occupy Los Angeles may have marked the end of large encampments across the country but the fight isn't over for smaller movements.

More than 20 miles south, Occupy Long Beach is continuing to seek permission from the city to pitch tents at a park adjacent to City Hall.

"We're standing our ground," said Erin Foyle, 31, a member of the group who is also part of the Art and Education Committees.

A 1992 anti-camping ordinance has prevented the group from pitching tents in Lincoln Park. The law was approved to prevent homeless people from sleeping in public spaces such as beaches and parks.

Dozens of occupiers, which include a small number of homeless people, have attempted to make a stand against the ordinance by remaining in the park when it closes at 10 p.m., sometimes with tents. They have attended council meetings in hopes of persuading the council to amend the ordinance, to no avail.

The Long Beach Police Department says 15 people have been arrested and charged with being in the park past closing time or violating the anti-camping ordinance. Among them was Jonathan Glen Davidson, 42, of Cerritos, who was recently sentenced by a Long Beach jury to 80 hours of community service with Caltrans.

The nine-member City Council told its city manager last month to meet with other key officials, including members of Occupy Long Beach, and report back with alternatives. The report was completed and given to the council on Nov. 30, prompting some members of the Occupy movement to expect it to be on Tuesday's agenda, but it wasn't. 

"Most of us are disappointed, but not surprised," Foyle said.

The council, however, will consider supporting federal legislation to reenact the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, which was repealed in 1999. The bank act, which separated investment and commercial bank activities, was approved by Congress in the wake of the stock market crash.

Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal introduced the agenda item. "I think most people agree with the concerns expressed by the Occupy movement over the last three months and are looking for ways to show solidarity," Lowenthal said in a statement.  "I’m not sure if Long Beach is the first city … to call for the reenactment … but I thought it was important for us to be on the record in support of something that could benefit residents, otherwise known as the 99%."

[For the record, Dec. 6, 5:07 p.m.: A previous version of this post incorrectly said the report wasn't finished in time for the Dec. 6 council meeting. In fact, the report was completed and released to the council Nov. 30.]

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-- Ruben Vives

Photo: Members of Occupy Long Beach gather outside Long Beach City Hall after a meeting last month. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

 
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