Declaring a homelessness crisis, the Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday paved the way to allow people to sleep on sidewalks and temporarily live in their cars while it continues to seek ways of housing an estimated 26,000 transients.
The council directed the city attorney to draft changes to a "shelter crisis" ordinance that currently allows it to quickly provide beds for the homeless in public buildings from Nov. 1 to March 31. If approved, it would expand the program at least through the spring.
Last month, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors declared a shelter crisis amid concerns that El Niño-driven winter storms could wash out homeless encampments in riverbeds and storm drains.
In 14-0 votes, the council also ordered drafting of legal changes that would permit people to park cars and recreational vehicles overnight in city- and church-owned parking lots and would ease -- but not eliminate -- fines and criminal penalties for people who break the law by putting their personal belongings on sidewalks. A law permitting seizure of such belongings has been controversial.
All the measures require further council approval.