LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — With the type of passion seldom seen in the City Hall chambers, Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson stood up to issue an impassioned plea for compassion and understanding to those opposing a proposed temporary homeless shelter in Koreatown.
“Los Angeles must rise up like a tidal wave, a tidal wave of hope and say, ‘Enough is enough!'” Wesson told a packed house at a council meeting Friday.
The forum brought the most recent development in this now-two-month showdown over the proposed “A Bridge Home” facility planned by the city for a site near Wilshire Boulevard and Vermont Avenue in the heart of Koreatown.
The city council voted 12-0 to study the possibility of a different site for the shelter on Kenmore Avenue that would house 250 people, but the proposal’s detractors, some holding signs reading “Wesson Out” and ” Recall Wesson,” still gave the District 10 councilman an earful.
“You need to stop pushing this down our throats!” said one woman at the podium.
“Why are you targeting only Koreatown?” asked another.
Last month, hundreds of protesters shut down traffic at Wilshire and Normandie to protest the shelter. Many Koreatown residents say they’re empathetic to the plight of the homeless, but claim their input was not taken into consideration when the site was chosen.
Still, Wesson did have supporters in the crowd.
“There’s gotta be shelter for folks,” said one booster.
“We believe that Koreatown has a critical mass of empathetic people who are in support of exactly this sort of program,” one man said.
As for Wesson, himself, he continued by decrying those opposed and doubling down by proposing a possible second shelter next to his Koreatown office on Western Avenue where 15 people could be housed.
“This parking lot is next, not next-door, to the office where I work every day! My parking lot!” Wesson said as he slammed his hands down.
“I will work and live with people who have lived on the street if it is feasible,” he continued to a roar from the crowd. “Because I don’t want anybody to ever suggest that I wouldn’t make sacrifices that I’m asking them to make.[…] Oh my God, we are driving past homeless people, and we’re not seeing them! When that happens, that is the end of our humanity, the end of our humanity, and that we cannot do.”
A protest by the opposition was to take place immediately after the vote, but it was canceled and the would-be demonstrators boarded their charter bus.
Similar showdowns are have been taking place across Los Angeles as the city floats “Bridge” shelters in its different council districts.
In Venice two weeks ago, Councilman Mike Bonin faced similar questions and criticism, as well as some support, over the temporary shelter proposed on an unused Metro bus yard.