Buscaino aims for November 2022 for anti-camping ballot measure after council defers action

If Councilman Joe Buscaino wants Los Angeles voters to decide whether to bar homeless encampments in public spaces, he may have to gather tens of thousands of voter signatures first.

The City Council on Tuesday deferred a decision on whether to place his “Safer and Cleaner L.A.” measure — which would prohibit people from sleeping or camping on sidewalks and other public spaces if they have turned down offers of shelter or emergency housing — on the June 2022 primary ballot.

Instead of approving or rejecting the proposal, the council voted 11-2 to refer it to the council’s Homelessness and Poverty committee.

Buscaino — who is running for mayor — has previously vowed to collect the nearly 65,000 voter signatures necessary to put the measure before voters in 2022 if the council declines to do so.

The council still has several months to decide whether to move forward with the proposal for the June ballot. But that’s unlikely to happen, given that Buscaino’s ballot measure committee has announced plans to begin collecting signatures for the November ballot.

“We’re effectively saying that we’re going to collect the signatures. So we’ve communicated our next move,” Michael Trujillo, Buscaino’s campaign spokesman, said Tuesday afternoon. Trujillo said the ballot measure committee will likely begin signature gathering in January and plans to utilize both volunteer and paid signature gatherers.

Buscaino sharply criticized his City Council colleagues in a campaign email sent Tuesday afternoon from his ballot measure committee, saying that they “showed today that they are more interested in the right to sleep on the sidewalk than the right to housing.”

During a lengthy discussion before the City Council vote, some council members opposed the measure on its face while others said they felt a ballot measure that had not gone through council committees was not the way to move forward, particularly when the city had already implemented a new anti-camping ordinance in recent months.

“The reason that we need to send this to committee is because we don’t have before us anything to vote on,” Councilman Paul Krekorian said. “And if we had before us a policy that had been worked through and thought through, then yeah, maybe we could cast a vote. But we don’t.”

Summarizing the opinions of several of his colleagues, Councilman Gil Cedillo described the ballot measure proposal as “not yet cooked.”

While voicing his opposition, Councilman Mike Bonin characterized the ballot proposal as “focusing on the wrong problem,” saying that it focused on enforcement rather than addressing the whole situation.

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If Councilman Joe Buscaino wants Los Angeles voters to decide whether to bar homeless encampments in public spaces, he may have to gather tens of thousands of voter signatures first. The City Council on Tuesday deferred a decision on whether to place his “Safer and Cleaner L.A.” measure — which would prohibit people from sleeping…

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