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It’s not just Koreatown—proposed shelter sites in San Pedro, Wilmington draw opposition from residents

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Councilmember asks community members to “have an open heart”

Aerial view of Port of LA
The city will investigate two possible shelter sites in the harbor area.
Trekandshoot | Shutterstock

The Los Angeles City Council moved forward with plans for five new emergency homeless shelter sites Wednesday.

Right now, city officials are only asking for further study of those sites, but residents of Wilmington and San Pedro are already rallying against shelters proposed in those communities.

Multiple speakers at Wednesday’s council meeting said city officials hadn’t consulted community members before selecting which sites to study and called for a town hall meeting to discuss the issue further.

“How did you come up with that site?” Wilmington resident Jaime Bedolla asked Councilmember Joe Buscaino during the meeting. “Our community is not going to take this ... dumping of homeless in our area.”

A terse statement from the Wilmington Neighborhood Council reads that “the Community is outraged at the lack of information and transparency.”

In April, Mayor Eric Garcetti declared a “shelter crisis” and announced that the city would spend up to $20 million constructing temporary housing centers in each council district. According to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, the city is home to nearly 23,000 residents living without shelter.

But determining where to put new temporary housing has been tricky.

One of the first sites that local officials announced, a city-owned parking lot in Koreatown, proved so unpopular with residents that Council President Herb Wesson, who represents the district, now says he plans to bring senior housing to the site instead.

Almost 20 different shelter sites have been proposed so far, including alternative locations in the Koreatown area, but construction hasn’t even begun yet on any other than an emergency housing complex near the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument which had been in the works prior to the rollout of Garcetti’s plan.

Newly proposed sites include a vacant building at 7951 Beverly Boulevard, a trio of empty lots at 5975 South Saint Andrews Place, and a city-owned parcel at 2316 East Imperial Highway.

But the most controversial properties are a Wilmington parcel owned by the Port of LA at 828 Eubank Avenue and a CalTrans-controlled lot at 515 North Beacon Street in San Pedro.

Buscaino asked residents to “have an open heart, have an open mind,” while city staffers review whether the sites are appropriate for shelter housing. Community members in the audience jeered loudly in response.