Unhoused Angelenos should be able to camp in parks and parking lots: LA City Councilman Mike Bonin

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An unhoused person sleeps in a park in downtown Los Angeles. Photo by Amy Ta.

City Councilman Mike Bonin has introduced a proposal to help combat the homeless crisis: Use city-owned land, including popular Westside parks and beach parking lots, as “safe camping sites.” That could mean sanctioned areas for tents, tiny homes, or overnight parking for people living out of their cars. 

“Rather than homeless encampments scattered all around [a] park, let's put a designated section of that park for the people who are already there,” Bonin tells KCRW. “Offer them security and sanitation, provide them services and get them into housing, while restoring the vast majority of those parks to public use.”

Bonin’s plan is dividing local residents who want to keep those areas free of homeless encampments. Now some are calling for his ouster. 

“I will gladly take any of these [locations] off the table if something better comes up. And I'm not even saying do these right now,” says Bonin. “I'm saying let's evaluate the feasibility of it. I've got 12 different locations that we're looking at. Not all of these are going to pan out. But god willing, if we have a need, some of them better.”

He says he would rather have people be upset that he’s “trying to do too much than trying to do too little.”

New shelters, tiny home villages, and even a parking lot campground with tents have recently opened elsewhere around the city. 

Prince Page, who is staying at the parking lot campground in East Hollywood, says he likes the way the site is being managed. He tells KCRW reporter Anna Scott: “There’s security that people need, they want, that’s hard to find. And these guys work around the clock checking on us, making sure that nobody comes in here with any violence or any weapons. … That's really what I've been looking for.”

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Guest:

Reporter:

Anna Scott