L.A. City Council to vote on banning tents in parks
The Los Angeles City Council will vote Tuesday on whether to ban tents, sleeping bags, bedrolls and hammocks in scores of city parks, a move timed to the reopening of the City Hall lawn where Occupy L.A. protesters camped out last year.
As crews prepare to take down the fence that has surrounded the lawn for the last six months while it was rehabilitated, some homeless advocates worry the ban could have broader implications beyond keeping protesters from returning.
Others say the ordinance is redundant because overnight camping is already banned in city parks.
“It's such a waste of legislative time,” said Becky Dennison of the Los Angeles Community Action Network.
Officials in the city attorney's office said what's new about the ordinance is that it clarifies what constitutes camping and includes an explicit ban on tents. According to the ordinance, tents in parks pose health and safety issues, “cause visual clutter and blight” and can ruin the experience for other park visitors.
Father Richard Estrada, who works closely with the homeless at his Roman Catholic parish near Olvera Street in downtown Los Angeles, said he doesn't think people should camp in parks.
But the fact is, he said, they do.
If city officials enforce the new provisions of the ordinance, “this will hit real hard on this community," Estrada said.
“You're going to shove someone out, arrest them. But what does that do?” he said.
-- Kate Linthicum
Photo: A fence surrounds the park at City Hall last month as work continued on the lawn, post-Occupy L.A. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Time