This past week, the City hosted a community conversation to discuss the issue of homelessness in Monrovia, and the meeting highlighted in very real terms the additional work that all of us have to do to try and reach a consensus as to the most effective way we can respond to the overall situation. Given the nature of the identified issues and the passion that so many have regarding the matter, staff has spent time this past week further rethinking and refining the City’s overall approach to addressing homelessness moving forward. We will certainly have more to share in the coming weeks and months, however, we did want everyone to know how seriously we take the issues that have been raised, and some of our initial thoughts include the following:
FIRST… Regular and Consistent Community Outreach
- Staff plans on coordinating more regular and consistent outreach activities designed to provide regular updates regarding our efforts here at the City.
SECOND… Coordinate a Hepatitis A / Public Health Community Meeting in February 2018
- One of the legitimate concerns that has been raised is a fear about contracting Hepatitis A and / or another communicable disease, due to the activities of our homeless population.
- To address this concern, staff is working to coordinate a Hepatitis A / Health Forum to discuss facts and myths in greater detail.
- We have reached out to some of our partners at LA County, and we plan to have representatives from the LA County Department of Public Health on hand to discuss actual health related risks and prevention strategies.
- In addition, we will share additional details regarding the concerns that have been raised about human excrement being found in Library Park.
- During the community meeting this past week, I raised an issue about poop being found in the Library Park playground swing area without providing proper context, and for that mistake and oversight, I do apologize profusely!
- It is absolutely true that we did find poop at the Library Park playground swing area, however, what I didn’t share was the incident occurred months ago, prior to the installation of a brand new play surface at the playground.
- In addition, I also failed to mention that we do not know the source of where the poop came from, as the incident was an isolated occurrence, and since that time, we have not seen any reoccurrence at the Library Park playground area.
- Furthermore, I also did not outline that in over 3 years (that’s more than 1,095 days), we have found poop outdoors in Library Park on only 2 occasions.
- However, given the seriousness of the issue, the City had previously established a poop patrol where our team monitors hot spots daily for any reoccurrence of the identified issue.
THIRD… Schedule a Study Session with the City Council in Late February 2018 / Early March 2018 to Discuss Possible Rule Changes
- Staff has heard impassioned pleas that the City change some of our rules regarding conduct in our public spaces, along with modifying how we impound items left by our homeless population in public spaces.
- To that end, we plan on coordinating a study session meeting with the City Council to take place in late February / early March 2018 to discuss each of the proposals in greater detail.
- An overview of the rule changes we plan on reviewing with the City Council includes:
- Considerations and challenges associated with re-adopting a “No-Camping” ordinance
- Maintaining our 72 hour notice prior to removing personal property belonging to a homeless individual, vs. transitioning to a 24 hour notice prior to removing that personal property
- An assessment of park closure times
- Discussion regarding the possibility of requiring homeless individuals to obtain a permit prior to loitering at Library Park
- Review of a proposed restriction on overnight on-street RV parking in Monrovia
FOURTH… Press Forward with Proposed Infrastructure Upgrades
- There are a number of infrastructure projects currently in the design / development process related to addressing issues of homelessness in Library Park, and staff plans to continue to aggressively pursue those initiatives.
- An overview of the projects currently in the pipeline includes:
- Comprehensive upgrades to Library Park – study session planned with City Council in February 2018, with construction scheduled to begin at some point in mid- to late-2018
- Install Real Change Movement signage and meters at Library Park – mid-2018
- Review possible signage upgrades / modifications at City parks – mid-2018
- Block off the alley between the Community Center and the bank – early 2018
- Redesign the patio area in front of the Community Center as a GoMonrovia LimeBike parking location – early 2018
FIFTH… Continue to Coordinate Both a Robust Law Enforcement Response AND Develop Enhanced Social Service Contacts
- The police department will continue to coordinate a robust law enforcement response to address any and all violations at Library Park, and we continue to maintain our commitment to engaging in those law enforcement activities in a manner which is aligned with all applicable rules and laws
- The City will continue our special homeless patrols, which occur each week for 5 hours at a time
- City staff is also working to expand our partnership with social service operators such as LAHSA, and we are working on development of a more robust plan of relentless interface with our homeless population to offer social service / housing related options
- This initial overview provides just a quick recap of some of our thoughts here at the City, and in the coming weeks, will be certain to coordinate engagement opportunities for the community to further discuss how we should respond to the issue of homelessness in Monrovia.
- Brad Haugaard