Culver City Council Approves Controversial Anti-Camping Law
February 2, 2023
Ignoring pleas from the homeless and their advocates, the new City Council at its Monday night’s meeting voted 3-2 to introduce and approve an anti-camping ordinance, which former city officials said, “will sweep away our unhoused neighbors.”
The dissenting votes were cast by Vice Mayor Yasmine Ismani-McMorrin and Councilmember Freddy Puza.
The new ordinance – similar to Santa Monica’s antic-camping law – forbids tents and allows only bedding and pillows for people sleeping on streets. It does not codify any services provided to the homeless in Culver City.
The Council meeting, which ran more than six hours, drew some 100 speakers, ranging from concerned residents to homeless individuals and their supporters.
Bubba Fish, vice chair of the Culver City’s housing and homelessness committee, demanded why the Council addressed this controversial measure “without going through the normal process. They did not alert or consult with the committee.”
Other speakers questioned the legality of the new law, noting that “the city will be sued and lose” in courts.
McMorrin and Puza expressed the need for a Housing First approach to homelessness focusing on services and housing first strategy instead of permitting police sweeps of the poor residents living in makeshift shelters.
But Mayor Albert Vera, Jr. and Council members Goran Eriksson and Dan O’Brien were not swayed by their colleagues nor the homeless advocates and all voted in favor of the anti-camping ordinance.
The new law will identify safe camping sites in Culver City, including public parks, public parking lots, streets and sidewalks, and landscaped areas where camp facilities are prohibited, said city officials.
“The Ordinance will also authorize the City Council to designate specified public places where camping is allowed,” said staff in report. “Enforcing the ordinance would involve removal of prohibited structures and equipment, but it does not involve the removal of unhoused persons.”
According to the 2022 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, an estimated 350 people experience homelessness in the local community, said Culver City officials.
In a staff presentation to the council two weeks ago, Director of Housing and Human Services Tevis Barnes mentioned there are approximately 20 people living in encampments under the 405 Freeway at Venice Blvd., 6 people near the Senior Center, 3 at Veterans Park and half of dozen along the Ballona Creek.
After Monday’s meeting, former Culver City Mayor Daniel Lee tweeted: “The new majority of the Culver City Council wants to start sweeping unhoused neighbors with nowhere for them to go.”