Beaumont Tashjian Law Blog

Monday, August 2, 2021

The Los Angeles Homelessness Crisis: How the City’s New Anti-Camping Law Impacts Your Community

The homelessness crisis in Los Angeles is impossible to ignore. While it seems that over the years, the crisis has become embedded into the fabric of the City’s culture, with encampments such as Skid Row becoming household names, legislators and local leaders have continued to grapple with solving, or at least mitigating exacerbation of the situation. It’s also no secret that this hot button issue has left community association boards and managers wondering, “What is the City doing to help?”

This question is more relevant than ever, given the pandemic’s impact on homelessness over the last year alone. As of the date of this letter, the State of California reports the highest homeless population by far, according to the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (161,000+). The vast majority reside in Los Angeles County (66,000+), and the vast majority of those are within Los Angeles City itself (41,000+).

At the end of July 2021, Los Angeles’s Mayor, Eric Garcetti, signed an ordinance that revises current local laws governing homeless encampments. Under the Los Angeles Municipal Code, people are broadly prohibited from occupying a sidewalk, street, or any other public, pedestrian right of way, in a manner that would “annoy, molest, obstruct or unreasonably interfere with free travel.” The law also prohibits loitering on bridges/overpasses and in areas adjacent to freeways and vehicular traffic areas.

Mayor Garcetti’s changes expand mightily on the current law. Beginning in September, people will be expressly prohibited from sitting, sleeping, lying and storing personal property in any manner that impedes public passage. The law also outlines specific locations wherein sitting, lying, sleeping, etc. are prohibited, including:

  • Bike lanes and paths;
  • Within 500 feet of a “sensitive use” area (schools, day cares, public parks, public libraries);
  • Within 500 feet of freeway ramps, tunnels, bridges, overpasses if the City determines by a separate resolution that occupying the area would be incompatible with safe passage or otherwise unhealthy/unsafe;
  • Any other area that the City designates is unsafe for occupying.

While this certainly doesn’t “solve” homelessness, it greatly impacts where homeless encampments are allowed to be situated by clearly outlining certain “off-limit” locations. Additionally, the City is given authority under the new law, to determine independently what other areas should be off-limits (for a period of up to one year). In determining additional locations, they will consider circumstances such as:

  • the death or serious bodily injury of any person at the location due to a hazardous condition;
  • repeated serious or violent crimes, including human trafficking, at the location; or
  • the occurrence of fires that resulted in a fire department response to the location.

In light of this new law, if your community is located within or near its prohibited areas, you may see a change beginning in September. If not, community association leaders may also have grounds to seek an exception from the City, especially if an encampment near your community has given rise to crime, etc. Violators of the law are subject to an infraction and fines if they resist or delay moving from the area after being asked.

This is undoubtedly a sensitive topic which requires compassion, but without compromising on safety and security. Board and managers should contact legal counsel with any questions or concerns about how this law impacts their association and what reasonable steps they can take to ensure harmony with our unhoused neighbors.

HIGHLIGHTS AND SUCCESSES

Congratulations to BT Associate, Tawnza Sofranko, Esq., and the Programs Committee for winning the CAI Orange County Committee of the Year Award.

UPCOMING EVENTS

CAI - Channel Islands Chapter Webinar: Risky Business

BT Partner, Lisa A. Tashjian, Esq., CCAL, and Dennis Brooks with Design Build, will be speaking at the CAI-Channel Islands Program, "Risky Business," for a virtual webinar on Tuesday, August 24th at 11 a.m.

This program will cover:

  • What are the risks and legal ramifications of deferring maintenance?
  • Surfside Tragedy and what we know
  • How do you convince boards to spend the money?
  • The risk of kicking the can down the road... Heeding expert inspection reports and warnings
  • Construction contracts & working with contractors: What should a contract include? Who reviews it and who signs it? What are common contract flaws and what is the board's fiduciary duty?
  • SB 326 Balcony Inspection reminders
  • The risk of insufficient reserve funds

REGISTER NOW

CAI-Channel Islands Chapter Luncheon: Stop, Drop, & Roll: Why Communities Get Burned by Fair-Housing Claims & Harassment

BT Senior Partner, Jeffrey A. Beaumont, Esq., CCAL, and Sean Allen with Roseman Law will be speaking at the CAI-Channel Islands Luncheon Program, "Stop, Drop, & Roll: Why Communities Get Burned by Fair-Housing Claims and Harassment," on August 31st at the Spanish Hills Country Club from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.

This program will cover:

Fair Housing Claims

  • Are boards/management required to address hostile residents?
  • What accommodations are disabled residents entitled to?
  • Are service animals treated differently than emotional support and companion animals?
  • Can boards require residents to be vaccinated before using common area amenities?

Harassment, Abuse, and Intimidation

  • What actions can boards take when faced with harassing residents?
  • Do boards need to address harassment, abuse and intimidation directed to management, vendors, etc.?
  • What can boards do in response to on-line harassment, abuse and intimidation?
  • What if harassment is via email, or by tenants…what can or must boards and management do?

REGISTER NOW

CACM Bakersfield Regional Forum - Fall 2021

BT Associate, A.J. Jahanian, Esq., will be speaking at CACM'S Bakersfield Regional Forum Fall 2021, "Solutions for Managing a Difficult Board/Community and Still Live to Tell About It" on September 8th at the Stockdale Country Club from 11 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.

REGISTER NOW


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