City Hall park to reopen to public after Occupy L.A. renovations
This post has been corrected; see note at bottom for details.
Nearly eight months and more than $1 million later, the park surrounding Los Angeles City Hall will be open to the public Thursday.
The 1.7-acre area was cordoned off by chain-link fence last year after police cleared hundreds of Occupy Los Angeles demonstrators who had camped on the lawn for nearly two months. The encampment took its toll on the park, city officials said, resulting in a list of repairs that included a new irrigation system, replanting and paving.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will mark the reopening with a 10 a.m. news conference and will open the park's gates to the public after his remarks, his office said.
The fences will remain up for the time being to allow the public to get used to the park's 5 a.m.-10 p.m. hours, the mayor's office said. The park's gates will be locked outside of those hours.
No general fund money was used for the repairs, Villaraigosa spokesman Peter Sanders told The Times. About $572,000 came from so-called Quimby funds -- state funds designated for parks – and about $160,000 from Proposition 84. The rest came from entities including sponsors, the Department of Water and Power, and insurance.
As repairs were underway, city officials contemplated ways to open the park without triggering a second occupation. In June, the L.A. City Council enacted a ban on tents and explicitly prohibited the after-hours use of sleeping bags and cots in the city's 400 parks.
Camping in city parks outside of areas designated for that purpose has been prohibited for years, but officials said clarification was needed before the City Hall park reopened.
But it appears Occupy L.A. activists have shifted their attention—and their tents — elsewhere. Since early June, demonstrators have targeted the downtown business group Central City Assn., picketing outside board meetings, infiltrating luncheons and camping outside the association's Wilshire Boulevard headquarters.
[For the Record, 9:32 a.m. July 19: A previous version of this post incorrectedly said $750,000 came from Quimby Act funds; only $572,000 came from Quimby, an official said.]
— Kate Mather
Photo: A fence surrounds the park at City Hall in April as crews continued renovation efforts. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times