Long Beach could look to restrict the size and cleanliness of encampments in the city, along with how close they can be to things like schools, parks and “economic drivers,” under a proposal that’s coming before the City Council.

The idea comes from Councilmember Kristina Duggan, who sent a letter to the council asking for it to direct city management work with the city attorney and city prosecutor to examine what other cities are doing to regulate homeless encampments to improve public safety and health.

Duggan’s request points to cities like Los Angeles, which has had an ordinance in place for two years that allows the council to ban encampments in certain areas with a single vote, and San Jose, which bars encampments from being within 150 feet of heavily traveled school walking routes.

The proposal comes just weeks after a 31-year-old unhoused man stabbed a man holding a 2-year-old child in Belmont Shore, which is in Duggan’s district. Over 200 people showed up to a community meeting that was held in the wake of that incident, and the concerns raised at that meeting influenced Duggan’s request for enforcement options, she said.

“They didn’t want to hear that (the Police Department) and the city’s hands are tied. That’s what prompted me,” Duggan said of the residents who attended the meeting. “They got angry when they heard, ‘Our hands are tied.’”

The item is scheduled to be heard Tuesday night, June 13, but is expected to be pushed to the council’s June 20 meeting because of absences from the city manager, police chief and Mayor Rex Richardson, who is leaving the meeting early to attend an award ceremony, according to his office.

Duggan said she’s looking for options that can balance the rights of people living on the streets but also those of people trying to use public spaces like walkways, parks and libraries.

“I think we’re losing access to our libraries because people don’t want to go,” Duggan said. “We don’t want to see homelessness on the street, but also, we want to take our kids to the library.”

The city is currently looking at updating its code of conduct policy at city libraries, which could include bans for people who break rules regarding cleanliness and being disruptive.

Other cities named in Duggan’s request include Eugene, Oregon, which prohibits camping within 1,000 feet of educational facilities including daycares and libraries; Portland, which bans camping between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.; and Elk Grove, which has requirements for how clean encampments must be kept.

Los Angeles has used a more piecemeal approach, with its council using a new ordinance to ban camping in certain parts of the specific council districts on a week-to-week basis.

There is some frustration that the item is being pushed to next week, given the city’s state of emergency on homelessness and attacks like that in Duggan’s district.

Councilmember Daryl Supernaw, who signed onto the item, said that on Monday his office was contacted about an attack at the El Dorado Park Golf Course, where a maintenance worker who was opening the course was punched in the face and stabbed. It’s unclear if the attacker was unhoused.

“The sense of urgency is off the charts,” Supernaw said.

Supernaw said the issue has hit close to home with a lot of people, especially after the attack in May, where a 2-year-old was hurt. He noted that his granddaughter, who is about the same age, was playing at the same park in Belmont Shore a few weeks prior to the attack.

Still, he said he’s unsure whether there will be much council support for the item.

“I have the most trouble with no-brainers because you don’t expect the resistance,” he said. “If there’s something out there that is working and is legal, is it worth it to try it here? That’s where I’m at.”

Cities have largely been unable to enforce anti-camping laws if they don’t have an adequate amount of beds to offer people to get them off the streets. Long Beach’s most recent homeless count found 3,447 people living in some state of homelessness in the city but a report given to the council last week said the city only has about 1,300 beds, about 200 of which are offline because of renovations to those units.

The council is expected to approve the purchase of the former Long Beach Rescue Mission in conjunction with LA County to operate as a year-round shelter facility that would have 85 beds.

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Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @JasonRuiz_LB on Twitter.