Council passes wakeup call for homeless encampments
by Dan Blackburn
Hoping to discourage homeless people from establishing encampments in the city, the Redondo Beach City Council amended an existing ordinance to stiffen rules governing times and locations where overnight camping may occur.
The first reading of the measure passed 5-0, and will be before the council Dec. 1 for a final vote. Mayor Bill Brand was absent from Tuesday’s session.
City law now will prohibit camping within 500 yards of the Kingsdale Avenue homeless pallet facility, now under construction. Throughout the city, camping will be prohibited between the hours of 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.
City Attorney Mike Webb noted that a ruling in September 2018 by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals “is the law that our police department must follow.”
Part of that ruling addressed the Constitutional issue surrounding enforcement against people for sleeping outside in public places: “Even where shelter is unavailable, an ordinance prohibiting sitting, lying, or sleeping outside at particular times or in particular locations might well be constitutionally permissible.”
That prompted the council to express confidence that the ordinance restricting camping hours will not be challenged in court. Council member Todd Loewenstein said his district’s residents expressed “a lot of interest in the homeless issue.”
Council member John Gran’s district residents were concerned about the Kingsdale project acting as a “magnet” for other homeless persons, he said.
Webb told the council that homeless encampments “are very hard to get rid of once they are established.” He said the ordinance was an effort to “avoid unintended consequences. We are trying to protect Redondo Beach people who happen to be homeless, as well as the community at large. The goal is not enforcement.”
Mayor Pro Tem Nils Nehrenheim expressed his support for the measure, saying, “We need to have tools to do this right.”
In a related action:
A fence surrounding the city’s new homeless shelter will be installed by Ace Fence Company at a cost of $77,725, the council unanimously decided Tuesday.
The “temporary” placement of the facility — at 1521 Kingsdale Ave. — is expected to be in place for six months. After that, the pallet shelter will be moved to Moonstone Park.
Resident Maggie Clark told the council fencing around the facility was inappropriate and imparts the impression that inhabitants need to be separated from the community.
“There is no evidence that unhoused people are dangerous,” she said. “Wasting tens of thousands of dollars just reinforces this perception,” she said.
Mayor Pro Tem Nils Nehrenheim responded by noting,”This is for security (of the pallet shelter) residents. It’s about ensuring we are running a safe program, doing everything we can to do this right.”
There will be 15 of the pallet residences.
Last month the council set aside $300,000 of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to partially pay for the facility, which will cost $1.2 million for a 13-month program.
Closing time 10 p.m. Friday
A fresh spike in COVID-19 infections in Los Angeles County ushers in renewed restrictions effective Friday, council members learned during an update on efforts to control the pandemic’s spread.
For non-essential businesses permitted to operate indoors — including retail stores, offices, personal care services — occupancy must be limited to 25 percent maximum capacity.
The number of patrons at outdoor restaurants, breweries and wineries will be limited to 50 percent maximum outdoor capacity.
The number of customers at card rooms, outdoor mini-golf, go-karts and batting cages will be limited to 50 percent outdoor capacity.
Services at personal care establishments may only be provided by appointment to customers wearing face coverings by staff wearing face coverings.
Restaurants, breweries, wineries, bars, and other non-essential retail establishments must close from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Outdoor gatherings remain the only gatherings permitted, and these must only include 15 people maximum who are members of no more than three households. ER
by Jen Ezpeleta