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L.A. City Council committee members back five new homeless shelters

L.A. City Council committee members back five new homeless shelters
Supporters of Mayor Eric Garcetti's Bridge Home plan, which would house homeless people in temporary shelters, hold signs at a Wednesday hearing on five proposed shelters in L.A. (Dakota Smith / Los Angeles Times)

Mayor Eric Garcetti’s plan to ease Los Angeles’ homeless crisis by putting up temporary shelters across the city moved forward Wednesday after City Council members supported shelters in Venice, Wilmington, San Pedro, Watts and South L.A.

Councilmen Mike Bonin and Marqueece Harris-Dawson, who serve on a committee focused on homelessness, agreed to exempt the projects from a full review under the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, the state law governing development. The exemptions allow for the projects to be built more quickly.

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The projects now will be considered by the full City Council.

Garcetti’s Bridge Home program seeks to erect shelters in all 15 council districts. The council has approved CEQA exemptions for proposed shelters in several other neighborhoods, including Hollywood and downtown.

It’s unclear what the overall price tag will be for the Bridge Home program. The proposed 100-bed shelter in Watts will cost $5.46 million, according to a recent city report. That figure doesn’t include the cost of running the shelter.

Dozens of supporters appeared at Wednesday’s hearing and talked with emotion about the homelessness crisis. Some said the recent cold weather was a reason to get people indoors, and others held signs that read “Beds Not Sidewalks.”

Sherman Oaks resident Jon Pelzer said he supports building shelters “because it is the right thing to do and it is also the fair thing to do. Because it spreads responsibility we all have around the city.”

Some neighborhoods have resisted shelter plans. Hundreds of people attended an October town hall with Garcetti and Bonin to oppose a proposed shelter at an old Metropolitan Transportation Authority yard in Venice.

Mark Ryavec, president of the Venice Stakeholders Assn., attended Wednesday’s hearing and said the city was moving too hastily with the Venice shelter plan. He said the city hadn’t addressed issues including noise and parking at the proposed site.

“We’re going to have to sue,” Ryavec said after the hearing. He said the city needs to “abide by the bare minimum requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act.”

The addresses for the shelters backed by the council members Wednesday are 2316 E. Imperial Highway in Watts; 828 Eubank Ave. in Wilmington; 515 N. Beacon St. in San Pedro; 5965, 5971 and 5975 South St. Andrews Place in South L.A. and 100 Sunset Ave. in Venice.

The council members also backed a plan to lease a former shelter at 1920 W. Third St. in Westlake for bridge housing.

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