LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is directing city officials to hold off on enforcing new rules that allow faster dismantlement of homeless encampments until the City Council can make some changes.
The ordinance approved by the City Council last Tuesday shortened the noticing period before officials can remove personal items from parks and sidewalks from 72 hours down to 24 hours.READ MORE: WeHo Follow-Home-Robbery Early Saturday Morning Under Investigation By Sheriff's Detectives
No notice is required for the removal of bulky items from sidewalks and parks.
Under the new rules, the city would be required to store any non-bulky belongings for 90 days. If the items are not claimed, the property may be discarded.
But in a statement issued late Tuesday night, Garcetti said he would be returning the ordinance without signature to the council.
“While it will become law, I will direct all city departments to defer enforcement of the ordinance until the committee and City Council consider the pending amendments and adopt changes to the ordinance,” said Garcetti. “In the interim, all city departments shall continue to use existing citywide protocols for the removal of personal property.”
At City Hall Wednesday, Garcetti echoed his remarks, describing circumstances in which changes to the ordinance would be beneficial.
“For instance, the homeless person with prescription medicine or their drivers license. I don’t want to see any mechanism where there’s a loophole and those can be seized,” Garcetti explained.READ MORE: Judge Denies LA Firefighter's Union Request For Injunction Against City Vaccine Mandate Enforcement
The mayor would also like to see misdemeanor penalties which can carry fines be dropped.
The ordinance does not apply to any item deemed to be a health or safety risk — such as something that could spread disease, contains vermin, or is a dangerous weapon — which could be discarded without any advance notice.
Items considered contraband or evidence of a crime could also be removed by the city without notice.
Andy Bales, Director of the Union Rescue Mission, is in a wheelchair after contracting three flesh-eating diseases while helping the homeless on Skid Row.
Bales says he is encouraged the mayor and City Council are talking about solutions. Now, he says, it’s time to translate some big ideas into action.
“I completely understand the need of cleaning up the sidewalks … having people take down their tents during the day and putting them back up at night,” Bales said. “But the bigger picture is that we need to do something for the people who are on the street because if we do something for the people on the street the stuff will follow them.”
Bales says it’s time for regionalized services that would direct the needs of homeless women and children.MORE NEWS: CHP Investigating 10 Freeway Shooting In Rosemead
“They are people, precious people, experiencing homelessness, and the time is now to address it in a big way, not fight over stuff,” he said.