A chain-link fence went up around the Billie Jean King Main Library in Downtown last week to prevent illegal camping on the premises while there’s construction in the area, according to a library official.

The approximately 8-foot-tall fence surrounds the entirety of the 92,500-square-foot building. A representative of the library, who did not provide their name, said over email that the construction company overseeing the Civic Center complex requested the fence for added security, especially at night while crews work on the new Lincoln Park.

“Lately, last month, we had problems with homeless camping out with tents, which is not allowed and that is why it was felt that the fence was needed,” the representative said in an email.

A fence surrounds the Billie Jean King Main Library as a pedestrian walks past the building on Broadway. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

Access to the library is now limited to a metal gate on East Broadway. It is open during business hours for book pick-ups and drop-offs between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The library building itself is not currently open for public use due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The library isn’t the only public property to be blocked off lately. A fence went up around Gumbiner Park at Seventh Street and Alamitos Avenue on Dec. 23, 2020 after a fire occurred that damaged the playground, according to the Long Beach Parks, Recreation and Marine Department.

“The fire was unintentionally set by people who were camping illegally,” a representative of the parks department said in an unsigned email. “Due to the nature of the grounds maintenance work, the entire park is closed at this time.”

The fence will remain up until maintenance is completed, according to the email. Currently, the park is waiting for a new rubber surfacing to be installed and maintenance staff is also doing upkeep on a few planted areas, the city said.

There’s no concrete date for reopening, but officials expect the park should be ready for public use again “in the next few weeks.”

According to the most recently available numbers, the amount of people living on Long Beach streets is increasing.

Volunteers counted 1,275 unsheltered homeless people in 2019. The next year, that number rose to 1,582. This year, city officials are delaying the count of unsheltered people because of the pandemic.