WHITTIER (CBSLA) — The Whittier City Council held an emergency meeting Monday night to talk about the possibility of closing a park after a 22-year-old woman was found dead in a homeless encampment at Parnell Park.
“The long and short of it is that something needs to be done,” Mayor Joe Vinatieri said.READ MORE: Staff, Students Evacuated Safely After Reports Of Man With Rifle Prompts Lockdown Of Sylmar High School
Ultimately, the council voted to approve a multi-step approach that they hoped would alleviate the safety and sanitation problems reported by those who live near and go to the park.
First, the city will give a 10-day notice before curfew enforcement begins. After that 10-day period, where groups would be able to help those living in the park find alternate housing, the curfew goes into effect and cleanup of the park will begin.
During the cleanup, areas that city staff say are in need of cleaning will be closed and cleaned. After city staff deem those areas safe for use, the park will fully reopen, and the city’s park curfew ordinance will be enforced.
The item still needs to be brought back to the council for a final vote.READ MORE: Multiple People Injured, Including Officer, During Shooting At High School In Knoxville, TN
Dozens of residents came out to speak against and in support of the homeless people living in the park.
“Some of these people want help, and they need help, and I’ve seen it in their eyes,” one Whittier resident said. “I’m not afraid to go to the encampment and interact with these people. They’re human beings.”
To address the issue of homelessness, the city of Whittier has taken measures such as passing a camping ordinance that requires the tents to be taken down during the day. The city has also previously said it was working on getting more housing options for those living in the park, but for some that was not an adequate solution.
“We don’t need another shelter in Whittier,” one resident said. “Let the other cities around us take their fair share. If we build another shelter, we’re going to have more vagrants and drug addicts.”
After the vote, Vinatieri spoke directly to the residents in the crowd.MORE NEWS: Six Flags Magic Mountain Vaccination Site To Close April 18, Will Be Replaced With Two Additional Sites
“I want you all in Parnell Park area to know that you have been heard loud and clear, and we want to be compassionate and help those who help themselves,” he said.