Whittier City Council Caves to Angry Mob

On Tuesday, the Whittier City Council was faced with a roomful of angry anti-homeless advocates. Against legal advice, and at risk of a lawsuit, the Council voted unanimously to enact two anti-camping laws, including a curfew at Leffingwell Ranch Park, with the consensus that Council will be looking at curfews for all the parks.  

Ordinance No. 3105, Camping and Storage of Personal Property in Public Areas, which was renamed No. 31011, was also passed unanimously. This means that any unhoused individuals will have to take down their tents between 8am and 9pm.

To read this week's story, scroll down.

Fri. Nov. 15, 7pm: Friends of the Organ

Hear these local music masters perform their favorite pieces on First Christian's celebrated Rosales organ: ⭑ Eric Nelson 
⭑ Russ Litchfield 
⭑ Linda West Brown 
⭑ Blake Howard 
⭑ Kevin McKelvie

First Christian
6355 Greenleaf Ave.
Whittier, 90601
FREE event

Sat. Nov. 16, 2pm: Snap Judgment Photography Show Reception

From the darkness of alchemy to the brightness of the pixel, the Whittier Photographers Society collects diverse elements into a shared photonics vision.

Whittier Art Gallery
8035 Painter Ave.
Whittier, 90602
FREE event

Tue. Nov. 19, 7pm: Homelessness 401 Workshop

The Whittier City Council is under siege by frustrated folks wielding false facts. Discuss data-driven, evidence-based, compassionate strategies for housing unhoused neighbors.

First Christian
6355 Greenleaf Ave.
Whittier, 90601
FREE event

Sat. Nov. 16, 9am: FREE Bike Class - Street Skills

Comfortable getting on a bike? Want to gain more experience bicycling on city streets in a group setting? This ride will apply practical skills and critical thinking in real-world settings.

Pico Park Center
9528 Beverly Blvd.
Pico Rivera, 90660
FREE registration

Sat. Nov. 16, 7:30pm: Dave Alvin & special guest Chuck Prophet

Dave Alvin (X, The Knitters, and more) helped to kick-start the American roots rock scene in the early ’80s with The Blasters. "Sideways" roots rocker Chuck Prophet opens.

Shannon Center
6760 Painter Ave.
Whittier, 90601
Tickets $30

Wed. Nov. 20, 6pm: Trans Day of Remembrance Vigil

Join Whittier College, the Office of Equity and Inclusion, and TOBGLAD for a candlelight vigil in commemoration of the transgender lives lost this year due to hate crimes. 

Whittier College Campus Courtyard
Painter & Earlham
FREE event

Sat. Nov. 16, 11am: Confidence Conference for Women

Free RSVP event for women. Activities include vision boards, journal-writing, goal-setting, interview-coaching, head shots, lunch, and raffles.

Community Center
7630 Washington Ave.
Whittier, 90602
FREE registration

Tue. Nov. 19, 11:30am: Landlord Engagement with Whittier's First Day

After a complimentary lunch, learn about: how to fill vacant units  case management  guaranteed subsidy payments  damage mitigation funds

Pico Park
9528 Beverly Bl.
Pico Rivera, 90660
FREE event

Wed. Nov. 20, 7:30pm: Workman Mill Industrial Orchestra

This one-hour concert will explore different musical genres and periods with original orchestrations, using a diverse collection of instruments and musicians.

Rio Hondo College
3600 Workman Mill
Whittier, 90601
FREE event

Thur. Nov. 14: The FIGHT Magazine: Transgender Day of Remembrance (WeHo)
Fri. Nov. 15: The Shabbat Table (November) (Boyle Heights)
Fri. Nov. 15: L.A. 13th Annual Druid Underground Film Fest (Lincoln Heights)
Sat. Nov. 16: Repair Café and Really Really Free Market (Pasadena)
Sat. Nov. 16: Community Policing Conference: Redefining Public Safety (DTLA)
Sat. Nov. 16: 4th Annual LA. City County PowWow 2019 (DTLA)
Sat. Nov. 16: Zero Waste Sewing and Mending (Pasadena)
Sat. Nov. 16: Sophie and the Rising Sun—Film Screening and Q&A (JANM)
Sat. Nov. 16: Latino Leaders Speak: Personal Stories of Struggle and Triumph (ELA)
Sun. Nov. 17: SUR:biennial Poolside Artist/Curator Panel @ Ace Hotel (DTLA)
Tue. Nov. 26: Songs and Stories from Native America (Acton)
Sat. Nov. 30: 36th Annual CSUN Powwow (Northridge)
Sat. Nov. 30: MOVE: Dance '90s with Shamell Bell (CAAM)
Sun. Dec. 1: Downtown Jewish History (DTLA)
Thur. Dec. 5: The Strong Towns Southern California Regional Gathering (Santa Ana)
Editor's Picks: Big Picture Story of the Week
Next Wednesday, November 20, is the 20th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance. Last week, Out magazine published "What You Need to Know About Trans Awareness Month". An excerpt:

"The month of November celebrates the transgender and gender nonconforming communities and raises awareness for the community through education and advocacy activities. This year, it will encompass vigils and other gatherings around the country. As an integral component, the month also includes the Transgender Day of Remembrance, which memorializes those who have been murdered.

"At least 22 transgender or gender non-conforming people have been killed [in the United States] this year, the most recent being Brianna “BB” Hill, a black trans woman who was murdered in Kansas City last month. In August Jorden Cofer, a transgender man was fatally shot in a mass shooting by his brother in Dayton, Ohio which killed nine other people."

Continue reading the article here.

Editor's note: Area Transgender Day of Remembrance events will be hosted by the City of West Hollywood, Orange Coast Unitarian Universalist Church, LGBTQ Center of Long Beach, South Bay LGBT Center, and Whittier College. Rio Hondo College observed Transgender Day of Resistance on November 6.

Whittier City Council Caves to Angry Mob

by Diana Juarez

Tuesday's Whittier City Council meeting opened with a presentation by three students from the East Whittier School District Mr. Roboto Robotics Club, at the invitation of Second District Councilmember Henry Bouchot. Students Diego, Elias, and Jonas shared the results of their research project into innovative ways to provide housing. 

“We all joked about why we couldn’t build houses out of Legos just like we did when we were kids,” Elias said. But in fact, the boys proposed repurposing waste plastic to make bricks used in building homes, based on the work of a company in Colombia that is making, in essence, giant Legos. The boys spoke to a room full of tense adults with a confidence beyond their years.

Not everyone that stepped up to the podium brought a message as uplifting as these boys. Faced with a roomful of angry anti-homeless advocates, Whittier City Council ultimately voted to enact two anti-camping laws--against legal advice, and at risk of a lawsuit.

Over a dozen angry Public Comments varied from “what if we’re trying to house criminals?” to demands that the city “take the cuffs off the police and let them do their job.” Some described incidents of public urination and bathing in public, explicit drug use, and even pushing and shoving; others pointed fingers at Councilmember Bouchot, claiming that his interests were not those of the citizens of Whittier. 

Only three people spoke against the criminalization of homeless people, two of whom were legal aid lawyers. 

“I can tell you from direct experience that the criminalization of unhoused people dramatically decreases their ability to be housed,” said Monique Arellano, a full time staff member from the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles

Arrellano said further, “An unhoused person’s belongings are crucial to their survival, and with winter around the corner, passing an ordinance like [no camping or storage of personal property in public areas] could have fatal results without truly coming to a solution.” 

Shayla Myers, another member of the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, said, “Adopting an ordinance and tracking many of the problems that the City of Los Angeles is seeing with this ordinance is a step backwards when it comes to thinking about the real needs of our clients who are unhoused on the streets of Whittier. There are many, many things that the city of Whittier could do, but seizing and destroying people’s belongings in violation of the constitution is not one of them."  

Although many of those in attendance had clapped for each other when listing their grievances, none of them clapped for Arellano and Myers.

Early on in the meeting, Councilmember Cathy Warner moved to add an Urgency Ordinance to implement a new, stricter anti-camping ordinance immediately, instead of 30 days from the second reading.

It wasn’t just the camping and storage of personal property in public areas that was up for debate and vote, but also the enforcement of a curfew for Leffingwell Ranch Park. 

Councilmember Josue Alvarado debated that all the curfew would do was move the problem from one park to another and playing “hot potato” with the issue as well as trying to figure out whether the City can actually provide the resources required to implement the curfew. 

After much discussion where the Council went back and forth, it was Whittier PD Captain Aviv Bar who made things clear not just to the council, but to the room at large.

“We do make arrests in parks and we do issue citations for a variety of things. I think sometimes people feel like if we get there we can solve the homelessness crisis. That is an insurmountable task for our police officers. We can only deal with what we see...We do take people to jail that violate the law.” 

Ultimately, the ruling on the curfew at Leffingwell Ranch Park was passed unanimously, with the consensus that Council would be looking at curfews for all the parks. 

Ordinance No. 3105, Camping and Storage of Personal Property in Public Areas, which was renamed No. 31011, was also passed unanimously. This means that any unhoused neighbors would have to take down their tents between 8am and 9pm.

All eyes are on City Council to take care of the homeless crisis as humanely as possible.

Meme found on Facebook.

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Sustainable City Newsletter Staff
Publisher/Editor-in-Chief: Megan Hobza
Contributing Editor: Susan Friesen Cameron
News Interns: Diana Juarez and Charley Aguirre
Translator: Roxy Claros
Copy Editor: Gwen McCants
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