With a potentially punishing El Niño predicted to hit SoCal with lots of precipitation this winter and 26,000 people homeless in Los Angeles, the LA City Council has approved a set of measures aimed at helping get people off the streets, at least temporarily—allowing people who live in their cars to park their vehicles overnight in certain parking lots and opening some public buildings as temporary shelters. Public buildings that could be considered for use as seasonal shelters include "vacant municipal structures" or "park facilities," but ultimately would be selected by councilmembers, a rep for Councilmember Mike Bonin (who co-authored the motion) told Reuters.
The LA Times says that the city has fairly regularly declared a "shelter crisis" from November 1 to March 31; the declaration of a shelter crisis allows for public buildings to be opened as temporary shelters. But the City Council also asked that the end date for the shelter crisis be extended "further into the spring" and didn't set an end date. The Council also wants to find more public buildings to open to the homeless during this time. (The city has also declared a "state of emergency" for the homelessness crisis in general.)
The Safe Parking Program would allow people who live in cars to park in designated lots and would likely be modeled after a program in Santa Barbara, highlighted in the City Attorney's report for the City Council. That program puts limits on the number of RVs or vehicles per parking lot, establishes permit requirements for people using the lots, and also sets up restrooms on-site. However, Bonin told the Times that it's not too likely that the parking program will be put in place before the end of the year.
The City Council voted unanimously in favor of adopting the measures but is expected to take a final vote in about two weeks.
· L.A. council declares shelter crisis in effort to help the homeless [LAT]
· Los Angeles moves to open some public buildings for homeless shelter [Reuters]
· Mapping the Widespread Homelessness That Runs Throughout Los Angeles County [Curbed LA]