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Buscaino targets anti-camping measure at ballot box for November

If City Councilor Joe Buscaino wants Los Angeles voters to decide to ban homeless settlements in public spaces, he may need to collect tens of thousands of voters’ signatures first.

City council on Tuesday postponed its decision on whether to place its “Safer and Cleaner LA” measure – which would ban people from sleeping or camping on sidewalks and other public spaces if they had refused offers of shelter or emergency housing – in June. First poll of 2022.

Instead of approving or rejecting the proposal, council voted 11-2 to send it to the council committee on homelessness and poverty.

Buscaino – who is running for mayor – has already pledged to collect the nearly 65,000 voters’ signatures needed to present the measure to voters in 2022 if the council refuses to do so.

The board still has several months to decide whether to go ahead with the proposal for the June poll. But that is unlikely to happen, given that Buscaino’s Voting Measures Committee has announced plans to start collecting signatures for the November ballot.

“We are effectively saying that we are going to collect the signatures. We have therefore communicated our next decision, ”said Michael Trujillo, spokesperson for the Buscaino campaign on Tuesday afternoon. Trujillo said the voting measures committee would likely start collecting signatures in January and plan to use both volunteer and paid signature collectors.

Buscaino sharply criticized his city council colleagues in a campaign email sent Tuesday afternoon by his voting measures committee, saying they “have shown today that they are more interested in the right to sleep on the sidewalk only by the right to housing “.

In a lengthy discussion ahead of the city council vote, some council members opposed the measure at first glance while others said they felt a ballot measure that had not passed by council committees was not the way to move forward, especially when the city had already implemented a new anti-camping ordinance in recent months.

“The reason we have to send this to the committee is that we have nothing in front of us to vote on,” City Councilor Paul Krekorian said. “And if we had a policy in front of us that had been worked out and thought out, then yes, maybe we could vote. But we don’t.

Summarizing the opinions of several of his colleagues, city councilor Gil Cedillo called the proposed measure of the ballot “not yet prepared”.

While voicing his opposition, City Councilor Mike Bonin called the ballot proposal “focusing on the wrong problem”, saying it focused on enforcement rather than the big picture.

The proposed ballot would amend the city’s administrative code to give the mayor additional authority over land use during a declared state of emergency related to homelessness. This would include the possibility of waiving the requirements of the land use code and zoning regulations “if necessary to urgently implement housing projects for the homeless,” according to the motion.

The board decided to bypass the topic after about 30 minutes of passionate public comment, with most speakers voicing their opposition. One commenter called the proposed measure “cruel, inhuman and unproductive” while another suggested it was “like trying to prevent forest fires by stating that it is illegal for a tree to be in. fire”.

The ballot proposal is separate from a controversial anti-camping ordinance approved in july. This ordinance, which prohibits camping around parks, libraries and other facilities, requires the council to review and approve locations before execution can take place.

Several council members spoke of the effort that had already been invested in this ordinance, which is called “41.18”, a reference to the article of the municipal code that it replaced.

“We have done a lot of painstaking work to create an ordinance and a program to do this,” said City Councilor Paul Koretz. “But this proposed voting measure basically says, ‘Sorry, folks, we didn’t really mean that. So now we take a hammer for whatever we submit to the wringer to accomplish.

“I think we need some time to see if the process we have put in place is working. Before we come up with something new to the voters, ”City Councilor Curren Price said.

Buscaino, who represents Watts neighborhoods in San Pedro and has taken a tougher approach to homelessness than some of his colleagues, argued his proposal would help the city respond faster than the ordinance. He told The Times in September that the ballot measure would provide emergency housing to “everyone living on the streets”, while also banning camps in all public spaces.

Several other council members contested this idea. Koretz suggested that the ballot measure, if approved, would be unworkable “due to the lack of beds or the trial that we will no doubt be slapped with, which will also slow down the process.”

Koretz said the proposed ballot would amount to “baiting and turning voters on … asking them to tell us we need to do something we just can’t accomplish any time soon.”

In an impassioned speech just before the vote, Buscaino said the council “has not treated this homeless crisis as the emergency it is”.

“This is what I hear,” Buscaino continued. “Process, process, verify, let’s send it to the committee. Let’s send a report back in 90 days. Let’s create a task force while people are dying on our streets.

Times writer David Zahniser contributed to this report.

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