New policy signed by Garcetti could build homeless shelters near you sooner than expected

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Community leaders in Koreatown alleged in May that the Los Angeles City Council was moving forward with an emergency shelter at 682 South Vermont Avenue without their input. Photo by Hugo Guzman, Hub staff

Mayor Eric Garcetti ordered several city departments to fast-track the building of temporary homeless shelters across Los Angeles, asking department heads across the city to streamline the process by speeding up the permitting process, environmental reviews and asking that units be complete within 90 days of starting work.

The streamlined system could result in projects moving from application to completion in as little as 32 weeks. Potential sites in Hollywood, Koreatown and other neighborhoods are already being reviewed for the shelters by city officials.

“No amount of red tape should stand in the way of our fight to end homelessness,” Garcetti said in a statement released May 30. “We have to use the unprecedented resources, partnerships, and political will to bring our unsheltered neighbors off the streets.”

On May 22, the City Council Homelessness and Poverty approved the review of five sites around Los Angeles for potential development of emergency homeless shelters. They are 11010 Santa Monica Boulevard, 682 S. Vermont Ave., 1533 Schrader Blvd, 5800 S. Figueroa Ave. and 1152 Lemoyne Street. In addition, 575 lots and 200 parcels in the City will be reviewed as well. All are city-owned properties including parking lots and vacant lots.

Some potential projects have alarmed residents.

At a May 16 community rally in Koreatown, local residents alleged that City Council was building emergency shelters without consulting them. The shelter most residents were worried about would be located at 682 S. Vermont Ave., currently an LADOT parking garage.

“We do not object to the creation of a temporary shelter,” Full Rights For Immigrants Coalition coordinator Juan Jose Gutierrez said. “However, we oppose the lack of due process.”

A similar uproar occurred in Lincoln Heights, where five public parking lots along North Broadway could become affordable housing developments. Councilman Herb Wesson’s Communications Director Vanessa Rodriguez said that further community input is being solicited, however. Much of the efforts have revolved around dispelling what Wesson’s office calls “myths” about the proposed sites, such as the idea that the emergency shelter is permanent, or that locations are being chosen at random.

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