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A homeless man sleeps on the sidewalk next to a prepared downtown lot where the new Los Angeles United States Courthouse is supposed to be built but is idle on March 20, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.
Los Angeles developer Geoffrey Palmer is fighting to erect a walkway between two apartment buildings downtown, arguing that it would protect future residents from a homeless encampment nearby.
The private bridge would cross Temple Street between buildings on either side to allow tenants a route above the homeless people living in a 110 Freeway underpass.
City planners, developers, and residents are debating the issue — critics of the walkway say that these kinds of private bridges demonize the homeless population, which is already being pushed out of the area as it becomes increasingly gentrified.
The Central Area Planning Commission rejected Palmer’s walkway proposal last month, but a new appeal from Councilman Jose Huizar and Palmer is asking the commission to overturn its decision. Huizar focuses on business in the area, and connecting residents to shops and neighbors, and his supporters contend that the new buildings and the walkways will help add to Downtown’s vibrant community.
Can private walkways really contribute to a bustling street scene downtown? How does a community create a sense of safety and togetherness? Is it fair to create a bridge for apartment residents to pass over the a homeless encampment?
Patricia Diefrenderfer, senior city planner with the Department of City Planning Los Angeles, project manager for The Transit Neighborhood Plans
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