The City of Los Angeles, in response to community organizing, demands from unhoused communities, County Public Health reports, and other input, has increased street cleaning and sanitation services in unhoused communities over the past three to five years. Unfortunately, however, the City has done so with an emphasis on criminalization, harassment, and removal of people and their belongings, instead of taking a health-based approach to ensuring safe and clean streets for all.
All endorsers acknowledge that housing is the ultimate solution to homelessness, and work to increase, preserve, and broaden access to housing on a daily basis. Endorsers also know, though, that housing for everyone is a decades-long goal that requires far more funding and massive policy change to undo this crisis that has been 40 years in the making. Therefore, the City and all of its Departments and residents, must change the approach to unhoused communities in our public spaces, and provide health-based solutions and resources that improve living conditions for all of us. To accomplish this goal, at a minimum:
We call on the Mayor of the City of Los Angeles to immediately:
1) Remove all Law Enforcement personnel from any of the City’s street cleaning teams and efforts
2) Ensure all street and sidewalk cleaning is scheduled, regular, and well publicized
- Eliminate the complaint-driven model in all forms. All street and sidewalk cleaning must occur as publicly scheduled.
- Cleaning will be scheduled on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly timeframe, with a 2 to 4 hour window of time, similar to other City street cleaning services.
- Continue to post notices at and near each site prior to cleaning services, either 48 or 72 hours in advance.
- Schedule will be publicly available through the City’s website, and via other modes of communication to ensure the information is readily available to homeless individuals, service providers, and others.
- Posted notices will include a map of the area to be cleaned and identify a voluntary secure space for people to leave their belongings during the cleanup if they choose to do so and/or have to leave the site during the cleaning. However, property/belongings can also be in any other space, as long as it does not impede cleaning. Attended or unattended personal property may be temporarily moved in order to complete cleaning, but will not be removed to offsite storage or confiscated under any circumstances.
3) Ensure appropriate resources are in place in advance of and during all scheduled cleaning
- Dumpsters/trash bins, individual trash bags, sharps disposal containers, and other health resources will be provided at the site of scheduled cleaning, at least 24 hours before the cleanup begins, so individuals can sort and throw trash away.
- Outreach workers will be present on site the day before the clean-up and also thirty minutes before the cleanup begins to provide additional notice of cleanings. Outreach workers or other community members will be allowed at the clean up sites to help identify and assist individuals who need accommodations to move their belongings.
- City officials will ensure that the provision of appropriate resources extends to any informal shelter needs in extreme weather such as rain or heat, and will provide accommodations during street cleaning that occurs in extreme weather conditions.
- Until such time restrooms are readily available in all communities, ensure that unhoused residents can utilize the City workers’ porta-potty currently on site during street cleaning.
4) Ensure an accountability system for City street and sidewalk cleaning procedures, including a complaint/grievance process and a response to any violations documented within three days.
All of the changes outlined can and must be implemented immediately, as they require no additional funding, no legislative changes, and are within the direct oversight of the Mayor of Los Angeles. Additionally, funding and policy change are required to fully ensure a health-based approach to street cleaning and sanitation services in homeless communities. At a minimum, these are outlined below.
We call on the Mayor of the City of Los Angeles to include in the 2019 budget (including any existing or planned HEAP funds):
1) Plans and funding to increase trash services
- Ensure that areas with significant homeless communities receive daily trash service.
- Ensure that the recent increase in trash cans and collection in Skid Row be maintained or expanded.
2) Improve public health infrastructure beyond street cleaning efforts
- For larger encampments, shower trailer, mobile bathrooms, needle exchange, Narcan training and distribution, and other public health and harm reduction resources and services must also be provided during street cleaning
- Increase mobile showers and bathrooms citywide in areas of highest need
- Remove and/enforce against hostile architecture, particularly the illegal sidewalk planters.
We call on the Los Angeles City Council to:
1) Rescind ordinances that have solely been used to criminalize homelessness during street cleaning efforts and at other times, including 41.18 d and 56.11.
2) Support the budget proposals above, at a minimum, to address public health and end harassment and criminalization.
3) Implement the Guiding Principles and Practices for Local Responses to Unsheltered Homelessness across all areas and departments of the City, particularly Sanitation.
This document is solely focused on a public health and harm reduction approach to street and sidewalk cleaning. All endorsers agree on these recommendations. However, this document does not include the multiple changes urgently needed in Los Angeles Police Department policy that criminalize homelessness, poverty and communities of color far more broadly than in the street/sidewalk cleaning efforts, or other recommendations to improve health and respect all human and civil rights.