Echo Park Lake homeless encampment

Homeless encampment at Echo Park Lake.

Echo Park -- A group of homeless rights activists and protestors returned to Echo Park Lake Monday night out of concern that officials might try to arrest homeless individuals for staying in the park after hours.

On a cold night, activists gathered by the lakeside encampment that is home to an estimated 60 persons.  At one point what protestors said was a police helicopter hovered overhead, according to posts on Twitter.  Later they took a large group picture.

But the feared arrests never materialized -- at least before midnight, according to L.A. Times reporter Emily Alpert Reyes. "As of 11:45, no arrests or citations at the park, as people in the homeless encampment had feared," she said on Twitter.

The evening protest was the latest such demonstration to defend the lakeside homeless encampment on the west side of the small park.

Activists have asked the city permit the homeless to live at the lake without fear of arrest or removal. Councilman Mitch O'Farrell has not agreed to do so but has proposed a series of initiatives to bring more homeless services -- including 24-hour restrooms and hygiene stations -- to improve conditions in the lake area.

On Friday, O'Farrell proposed setting up a storage facility for the homeless in a city parking lot a half block north of the lake on Glendale Boulevard. It's the same parking lot where O'Farrell wants to see housing for the homeless constructed, an initiative that has generated a lot of controversy

"Due to the increase of the unsheltered homelessness in the area, there is a need for storage near Echo Park Lake," said the City Council motion introduced by O'Farrell.  "Therefore, staff should be instructed to evaluate City properties in the area that may be feasible for a storage facility."

The motion needs to be approved by the city council before an evaluation begins.

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