Los Angeles residents are up in arms about a Democratic city councilman’s decision to remove a fence erected to prevent homeless encampments.
The fence, which was put around Echo Park in March 2021, was intended to deter populations of homeless people fro living there. It was installed after nearly 200 homeless people were removed from Echo Park amid clean-up efforts.
City Councilman Hugo Soto-Martinez said the fence will be removed at the end of March.
“We will take down the fence, and we will take painstaking care to do it right, with more transparency, so the city can see once and for all that criminalization and segregation don’t solve homelessness,'” Soto-Martinez announced in a statement.
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But Echo Park residents told FOX 11 Los Angeles that they want the fence to stay up, fearing that vandalism, assaults and drug use could increase as a result.
During the 2021 Echo Park cleanup, crews removed 723.5 pounds of biological waste and 300 pounds of hazardous waste, including drug paraphernalia.
“It looks like the way it should be. It’s a family park. And I think kids are feeling like they can come to a place and not worry that they might find needles in the playground,” resident Joey larva said.
“Without a special reason, I don’t find any clear benefit for fence down. Nothing but problems later on,” resident Paul Chong said.
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But the city council member doubled down on his decision, arguing that helping homeless people and keeping Los Angeles clean are not mutually exclusive.
“In our recent campaign just a few months ago, we knocked on thousands of doors in Echo Park and won every precinct around Echo Park Lake with our message that we don’t have to choose between helping our homeless neighbors and having safe, clean and accessible parks,” Soto-Martinez said to FOX 11 Los Angeles.
“We will not let the dangerous conditions that occurred at the park under our predecessor ever return,” he added.