When daylight fades in sunny Los Angeles and night sets in depends on the time of the year. (Today, Thursday, for example, the sun sets at 7:16 p.m. in Los Angeles, according to SunriseSunset.com.) But if has his way, the sprawling lawns of City Hall—which are still being restored after the prolonged Occupy L.A. sit-in from last fall—will close to the public well before sunset: at 7 p.m. daily.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Huizar introduced a motion in the City Council Wednesday, asking City Attorney Carmen Trutanich to prepare an ordinance that would “help protect and maintain” City Hall’s 1.7-acre park, which includes some of the finest lawns in town, by restricting public access to them from 6 a.m. through 7 p.m.
The City Hall park has been closed since December, when police arrested hundreds of Occupy L.A. demonstrators camped there as part of nationwide protest against economic and social inequalities. Previously open to the public from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., the park is expected to reopen next month after City crews wind up an elaborate restoration project that will have cost the taxpayer nearly $400,000, reports the Times.
Shortly after the park was cleared in December, Eagle Rock Patch featured a lengthy two-part interview with Huizar in which the Council member was asked why he and his colleagues chose not to enforce the law by allowing Occupy L.A. protesters to camp overnight on the City Hall premises—and why the same set of laws were later enforced to evict them.
Here’s what Huizar told Patch—:
Patch: You were one of the Council members who welcomed the Occupy L.A. protesters in October. Why do you think the City Council allowed protesters to first break the law and then have them arrested under the same set of laws?
Huizar: What we did as a Council is that we voted for a resolution that supported the message that the Occupiers brought with them, which was that we need to do something as a country to focus on people losing their homes, people losing their jobs. What we didn’t say—and the resolution didn’t say—was that you could stay there [on the City Hall lawns] as long as you want, whenever you want. I think that was a specific Council member [who] said, ‘stay as long as you want.’
The talk at the time when we passed a resolution was that they [Occupy L.A. protesters] would follow the law just as any other person wanting to use that space. As a public space, people can go there during the day, but it closes at night. The discussion was that at nighttime, those tents have to be rolled up—they can’t be in a public area.
That was the idea—that’s what I supported. And although I agree with their message, I would be in violation of our Constitution if I preferred their message and allowed them to stay there [as opposed to] if I didn’t support a message that I disagree with and not allow them to stay there.
I think what we did was the correct thing to do. Given the frustration that you see in the country, given the emotion, it wasn’t the right time to clamp down and say, ‘you’re violating City ordinances.’ But we couldn’t allow this to go on forever—it’s not within the law, it is not healthy, it is not safe. On the other hand, you allow them to express their message and you allow a situation where things settle in a peaceful manner—and that’s what happened.