A plan to build an emergency homeless shelter in Koreatown as part of a larger citywide proposal by Mayor Eric Garcetti is being met with growing opposition in the neighborhood, where the proposal triggered a weekend protest and an online petition that had gathered more than 5,100 signatures as of Monday.
The Koreatown proposal was unveiled last week. Garcetti’s “A Bridge Home” initiative was unveiled during his State of the City speech last month, and he also set aside $20 million in his proposed 2018-19 budget to spur the installation of emergency shelters in the form of tents, trailers, storage units or safe parking facilities in each of the city’s 15 council districts.
Since promoting the idea, Garcetti has maintained that NIMBYism—shorthand for “not in my backyard”—is low in Los Angeles, but the opposition in Koreatown has sprung up fast in the five days since the project was announced. Aside from the Sunday protest where dozens of residents demonstrated, a Facebook group “No Shelter in Koreatown” has formed and the Korean American Coalition sent out a news release complaining there was little public outreach made in the neighborhood before the announcement.
The online petition also contends that the public outreach was minimal before Garcetti and Council President Herb Wesson held a news conference last Wednesday announcing that an emergency shelter would be installed in a city parking lot at 682 S. Vermont Ave. Some of demonstrators said they weren’t 100 percent opposed to the shelter but felt community outreach was not done.
“This plan is definitely not the answer to resolve the homeless problem in Koreatown. But more importantly, the announcement/decision was made without hearing the true voices of the community residents and those who work in the community,” the petition states.
Representatives for Wesson did not immediately respond to a request to comment.
The plan to install tents or trailers around the city as emergency homeless shelters is similar to one that was recently floated by Orange County leaders but was soundly rejected by some local communities that did not want them in their city limits. Garcetti was asked during a news conference last week about the Orange County opposition to shelters and if similar attitudes in Los Angeles could derail his Bridge Home plan.
“I think that Orange County is a few years behind what we’ve gone through already in this city,” Garcetti said. “It’s not that we don’t have any NIMBYism, but we have much less, and I think over time Orange County will realize there’s no place else but here in each one of our cities that we have to solve this problem. I think that’s an inevitable conclusion.”
The city saw a 20 percent rise in the number of homeless last year, to 34,189, and the results of the new Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count results are expected to be released around the end of the month.