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LOS ANGELES-City officials this week will step-up a controversial “clean-up” campaign that supporters say will make Downtown a more attractive place to do business and protect the public’s health, but that opponents claim infringes on the right of homeless persons to live and linger wherever they wish.

The plan, championed by LA City Councilwoman Jan Perry, allows the small street-sweeping machines that previously ran along only Downtown streets to also sweep the sidewalks. Many homeless persons say such sweeps are against the law, and that moving their makeshift sidewalk homes or shopping carts is an inconvenience.

Councilwoman Perry counters that sweeping sidewalks as well as streets is important because it makes Downtown a “better place” for people who work in the area and that the sweeps help to fight the spread of disease. She also believes that few businesses will want to take office or retail space in the area if homeless persons can continue to block entrances, leave their shopping carts on the sidewalk, or camp out on the streets.

Perry’s efforts to clean up the area are opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union and other advocates for the homeless. The ACLU says it’s illegal for the government to remove shopping carts and boxes that have been claimed by homeless persons, and that the city’s policy of sweeping the sidewalks protects businesses without also protecting the homeless.

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