On Monday, December 12, after handling subcommittee appointments and repealing the $25 minimum wage for private hospital workers, the newly-seated city council moved to agendize consideration of a “tent encampment ordinance modeled after our neighbor city Santa Monica and others.”
This is all to make a big show of taking bold action on homelessness without actually doing anything.
The following provisions already appear in the Culver City Municipal Code regarding camping:
No person shall store personal property, including camp facilities and camp paraphernalia, within any public park or upon any public property.
CAMP FACILITIES. Include, but are not limited to, tents, huts or temporary shelters
CAMP PARAPHERNALIA. Includes, but is not limited to, tarpaulins, cots, beds, sleeping bags, hammocks, cooking facilities and similar equipment.
And regarding public nuisance:
The City Council finds and declares that it is a public nuisance and unlawful for any person to allow, cause, create, maintain, or suffer, or permit others to maintain [. . .] any personal property or structure that obstructs or encroaches on, across, or over any public property, including, but not limited to, any public alley, highway, land, sidewalk, street or other right-of-way
any person who causes, permits, suffers, or maintains a public nuisance, or any person who violates any provision of this Chapter, or who fails to comply with any obligation or requirement of this Chapter, is guilty of a misdemeanor offense
Santa Monica’s camping ordinance is actually narrower than the prohibitions we already have in Culver City. So why do Goran Eriksson, Albert Vera, and Dan O’Brien want to waste time studying it?
The enforcement-first methods of our neighboring cities have been a failure. A recent study reported in LA Magazine looked at LA’s efforts to clear encampments: “only ten percent of those enrollees have been moved into a temporary housing facility. Less than one percent have been moved into permanent housing, according to LAHSA data. Instead, people are being pushed out and forced to move from one block to the other, often losing their personal property and irreplaceable belongings in the process.”
Culver City has already made encampments illegal. And our neighboring cities, by focusing on clearing encampments, have only made homelessness worse. Our focus should be bringing as many permanent supportive housing units online as possible, and streamlining the process of getting people off the streets and into that housing.
It’s not fast. It’s not flashy. But it’s the one thing that we know works.