Anti-Camping Law Adopted by Bitterly Divided City Council
February 16, 2023
The bitterly divided City Council this week voted 3-2 to adopt an anti-camping ordinance, which allows only bedding and pillows for people sleeping on streets.
The dissenting votes were cast by Vice Mayor Yasmine Ismani-McMorrin and Councilmember Freddy Puza, who blasted the ordinance as unnecessary and cruel.
The new ordinance – very similar to Santa Monica’s antic-camping law – does not take effect until several goals are met by Culver City over the next few months.
According to city officials, these goals include the opening of 73 new units of interim and permanent housing, known as Project Homekey; the opening of a safe-camping site with supportive services for up to 40 people on a city-owned parking lot at 10555 Virginia Avenue; and the signing of long-term agreements with local motels for additional rooms for temporary housing.
City officials did not provide any specific date for the launching of these housing programs, stating that they are hoping the Homekey Project will open in March.
At its Monday’s night meeting, the Council also voted to delay until further notice the issuance of fines and citations to those who break the anti-camping law.
The Council meeting, which ran more than five hours, drew some 60 speakers, mostly homeless individuals and their advocates who failed to sway Mayor Albert Vera, Jr. and Council members Goran Eriksson and Dan O’Brien – the three “aye” votes.
Puza said the law is unnecessary and only “punishes poor people” while McMorrin called it “a cruel and anti-living ordinance.”
In its report, city staff said, “Enforcing the ordinance would involve removal of prohibited structures and equipment, but it does not involve the removal of unhoused persons.”
But McMorrin took issue with that statement. After the Council meeting, she tweeted: “Not one unhoused person asked for enforcement…What they asked for was housing, food, resources, laundry, showers, mental health care and to inform policy that impacts them most.”
This week, city officials did acknowledge that 6 homeless people died in Culver City last year.
According to the 2022 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, an estimated 350 people experience homelessness in the local community.