Villaraigosa: Occupy LA can stay 'for now'

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Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Thursday refused to issue an open-ended invitation to Occupy LA protestors camped on City Hall’s lawn.

Last week, the City Council passed a resolution supporting Occupy LA, and Council President Eric Garcetti told protestors “stay as long as you need.” Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is not making a similar commitment.

“The city acknowledges their First Amendment right to be here and to protest in the way that they have,” he said.

So they can stay there as long as they want?

“I think for now. We’ll see what happens going into the future," he said.

The mayor pointed out Occupy LA’s 500 tents on City Hall lawns are costing $2,700 a day in police, sanitation and other expenses. Damage to the law and sprinklers could top $400,000, according to one city official.

“We’ve all got to acknowledge that there’s a price to bear,” the mayor said.

After initially saying they planned to camp out until the end of the year, some Occupy LA leaders say they want to stay until the November 2012 elections. Their encampment has forced a popular weekly farmers market off of City Hall’s lawn and across the street. But both the mayor and police have said the protest has been generally peaceful.

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