The Lancaster City Council, along with Mayor R. Rex Parris, declared a state of emergency on Friday against Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass’ plan to move much of the cities homeless into the Antelope Valley, which consists of several cities, including Lancaster and Palmdale.
The action dates back to May, when then Congresswoman Bass said in an LA Times interview that she wanted to create clinics for people with mental illness in the county. However, she followed this up with saying that “There’s a big chunk of land in Palmdale and maybe we could create a village out there.” As Bass also pledged to house 15,000 homeless in her first year, it led to widespread worry in the area that she would create a large influx into the area, which would quickly overwhelm city services.
“We just aren’t meant to handle that high number of unhoused people, not to mention the medical and fiscal support that comes with it,” Nelson Root, an Antelope Valley business owner who has been contracted in the past to provide services for unhoused individuals, told the Globe on Friday. “You know many would leave the area she proposed, and guess where they would go? Lancaster. Palmdale. Tehachapi. Mojave. Not LA. When she said that, a lot of people here were angry. I even had someone who bought from me before, when they worked as a homeless volunteer. She said ‘If she’s Mayor and wants the city to get rid of them, why doesn’t she just offer them bus tickets to anywhere in the country? Or send them all to other cities?’ The issue is this big.”
Residents of the Antelope Valley then waited until November, as many hoped that Mayoral challenger Rick Caruso could win and squash such plans, as well as a homeless state of emergency, from coming into place. However, Bass ultimately won, with her being sworn in last weekend. With Bass in, and the LA City Council signing off on her homeless state of emergency, Antelope Valley residents became uneasy once again this week.
Amid growing concern that Bass would pass the problem to cities of the Valley, as well as pointing out that the action would go against the city being a sanctuary city and in favor of treating such people humanely, Mayor Parris and the Lancaster City Council swiftly took action and declared their own state of emergency in turn.
“She just announced the invasion,” said Mayor Parris this week. “And that’s what it is, it’s an invasion. I’m moving that we declare a state of emergency to counter the City of Los Angeles’ stated intent to invade our city with their homeless.
“I strongly oppose Mayor Bass’ plan to move the LA homeless population to a village in the Antelope Valley. This kind of inhumane and degrading treatment of individuals who are already struggling is unacceptable and must be stopped. How can you claim that your city is a sanctuary city while sending your own citizens away. Instead of isolating and ostracizing people who are homeless, we should be providing them with the support and resources they need to get back on their feet. We must reject this cruel and misguided approach and work towards a more compassionate and effective solution to homelessness.
“In Mayor Bass’ recent speech about her plan to curb the LA homeless problem, what she failed to mention is a relocation strategy, which wouldn’t adequately solve the issue and one that we stand firmly against.
“It’s a war we’re going to be engaged in with the City of Los Angeles to prevent this from happening. We’ve worked extremely hard to increase the quality of life for our residents. Mayor Bass’ plan to move the homeless to the Antelope Valley is irresponsible and inhumane. Our community will not stand for this. These individuals should not be forced to leave their home communities against their will to an area that is already strained to provide services. The Antelope Valley’s health care system is already overextended and poor people in the Antelope Valley die years, sometimes decades, earlier than those living in Los Angeles.”
Worry in Lancaster
Others in the LA County city of 170,000 people sounded off in approval of their own state of emergency.
“If a huge homeless housing area is placed here, what do you think will happen with crime? With Safety? With how far our resources will be stretched?” asked James Hideki, a Lancaster resident who was at City Hall several times this week in favor of the state of emergency. “But more to that is that California has a history of moving large numbers of people of a certain demographic to other areas of the state they don’t want to go. My wife is 1/8th Native American and I’m half Japanese. That should just speak for itself.”
“I’m not sure if Bass even remembers saying that to be honest, and she probably thought this would be under a volunteer basis if she still intends to do something like it. But you can’t just corral people, even under volunteer circumstances, and expect them to stay. They’ll be free to move around, and that mean affecting our city.”
“It’s not being said, but as much as LA wants the problem to be humanely solved, a lot of this is also tying to solve the cities problems before the Olympics in 2028. The homeless crisis doesn’t look good for a city on the world stage and causes many problems for events and transit, so they’re looking at options to move them out of sight. Hopefully this state of emergency will help deter from the problem being moved here.”
All of Bass’ plans regarding the homeless population of LA are expected to be announced soon.
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