Residents in the Koreatown section of Los Angeles took part in protests Saturday to object to a city plan that would create a homeless shelter in their neighborhood without ever giving the residents a say in the project.
Last month, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said the city would create more homeless shelters to keep up with the rising need. City Council President Herb Wesson picked a Vermont Avenue site in Koreatown. According to the state law that the city is acting under, public comment was not required before the site was picked.
“Mayor Garcetti should have had basic decency and respect to hold a public hearing so the community could voice its concerns about this proposed shelter,” said Ronald Kim, a protest leader,The Los Angeles Times reported.
Police said the protest, which drew several hundred people, was peaceful.
Residents object not only to the presence of the shelter, which will be opened in a converted parking structure currently owned by the city, but the fact they were ignored.
“This is incorrect. To come into a community — to say what you’re going to do without getting any type of consensus,” said protester Linda McShan.
The idea that a homeless shelter will be created within a mile of eight schools irks residents.
“The primary concern is health and safety,” said Kim, KCAL reported.
— Brave Heights News (@braveheightsnew) May 20, 2018
“The conversation with stakeholders in Koreatown was not what it should have been,” said Alexandra Suh of the Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance, KPCC reported.
City officials said Saturday they do not plan to back down from creating what they call a temporary shelter that is only to be open for three years and is being built to hold no more than 100 people.
Council leader Wesson noted that “it’s just impossible to talk to everyone.”
On Friday, Wesson said the project, part of a city plan to build 15 homeless shelters, was “the most important issue in the city of Los Angeles,” according to KTLA.
During a rally in support of the project, Wesson told supporters that “it takes power, it takes leadership” to move the project forward.
Garcetti said the project was essential.
“I understand fear,” he said. “And we will confront it. We will not dismiss it. … Our choice is not whether we bring people to our neighborhoods. It’s whether we take care of people already in our neighborhoods.”
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