In a survey of over 100 unhoused people in the City of Los Angeles, an overwhelming majority said their belongings were taken and that police forced them off of public property. Nearly 40 percent said they were not offered any housing after such enforcement.

These are some takeaways from a survey released by the LA Community Action Network (LACAN) on the effects 41.18, an LA municipal code that criminalizes homelessness.

LACAN, a group that describes themselves as fighting to preserve the human and civil rights of LA’s poor and houseless residents, is also releasing the survey along with a “People’s History” of the law giving the origins of a set of laws around the 1870s that was set down onto the books in 1936. In recent years, 41.18 was revised and allowed for the creation of numerous zones around the city where people who are unhoused cannot sit, lie, or sleep in public.

The authors of the report say they want the results and the history to serve as a “community impact statement” on the law. 

“They play with us,” one respondent in the 13th Council District (which includes neighborhoods like Atwater Village, East Hollywood, Echo Park, and Historic Filipinotown), said. “I pack up a day in advance [of the posted clean up] and they don’t come. They give us misinformation and get a kick out of seeing us scramble.”

The report comes out 10 months after the LA City Council voted to have staff report back on a set of questions evaluating 41.18. The report, which is now overdue, would need to detail how the law has so far been carried out, since the latest revision, how effective it’s been, the number of citations made by the police using the law, and how long people have been housed through outreach done after the enforcement of 41.18. 

“When they put in a motion, we first said, “Okay, it doesn’t have a community impact statement – how does it affect us, the residents, the people,’” General Dogon, an organizer with LACAN, said in an interview last September with an LA Public Press reporter.

Dogon said there wasn’t an avenue for them to give their input on the report requested by the council, so LACAN created their own. “That’s what this survey is about, is to talk about how we feel it has affected us in our community,” Dogon said.

LACAN organizers are calling for the abolition of the law, and for redirecting funds used on enforcement toward outreach, housing, and health services. They say the city needs to “promote community involvement and representation,” by creating ways for impacted people to have a say in “policy decisions affecting them directly.” 

They are calling for “shifting towards compassionate outreach” and to bring a sense of urgency to rethink how public space is regulated. 

Dogon said the 41.18 law was put into place as a tool to control the public, at a time “when Angelenos were doing their worst.” The law was used to regulate against loitering, and to enforce Jim Crow-era segregation that decided “who can be in public space … and who can’t. And today, it is being used to criminalize homeless people … about them being in public space and their property being in public space,” he said.

Another law known as LAMC 56.11, which regulates the storage of property in public places, is also in place. Dogon said they would describe it as a “merchant’s law,” affecting businesses’ ability to use public space around them, not allowing them to put racks of clothing on sidewalks or business signs, he said. But he said that law is mostly used against unhoused people now.

“So they took it off the businessman and they put it on the homeless man,” he said.

“It’s just not targeting homeless people, it’s targeting youth hanging on the block, it’s targeting street vendors,” Dogon said. “They are targeting everybody, every day, people just walking by, you know, everybody is targeted. It’s just not homeless people.”


Elizabeth has been on the local government beat since 2006, and likes making her friends take public transportation for her birthday.