A Bunch of Boulders in LA Are Stopping the Homeless From Lying Down

This isn’t the first time homeless people have found themselves displaced by a pile of rocks, and it likely won’t be the last.
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Boulders under Hwy 101-Cesar Chavez St. interchange in and around usual homeless encampment on Thursday, December 21, 2017, in San Francisco, California. (Photo By Elizabeth Hafalia/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

A random smattering of boulders has appeared in Los Angeles’ Koreatown neighborhood in an apparent attempt to prevent the homeless from pitching tents. 

While it’s unclear who put them there, this isn’t the first time homeless people have found themselves displaced by a pile of rocks, and it likely won’t be the last.

The large, difficult-to-move rocks recently popped up on an access driveway in an area of L.A. that’s typically occupied by homeless people but was recently cleared of an encampment, according to KABC, a local ABC affiliate. The city is looking into how they got there, since they’re not legal, and City Councilmember Gil Cedill’s office told KABC it “does not support utilizing any kind of barricades or blockage to deal with homelessness.” 

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Some residents of the area, however, welcomed the blockage over real-life homeless people occupying their streets, according to KCAL, a Los Angeles CBS affiliate. 

This kind of “hostile architecture” doesn’t exactly fix anything. It just prevents people from comfortably sitting or lying down in a public place—and makes the area more tolerable for business owners and residents nearby. 

But cities and residents keep using boulders to deter tent cities, nonetheless. Last April, the California city of Oceanside put rocks in an area where homeless encampments used to be and offered some people temporary hotel vouchers so they’d move indoors. Oregon transportation officials also placed boulders along an interstate last September, in part because they wanted to stop people from bedding down. 

Similarly, Georgia’s Department of Transportation lugged rocks and boulders beneath bridges in Atlanta in 2020, making it effectively uninhabitable for the homeless. In 2019, a group of San Francisco neighbors even banded together to buy thousands of dollars’ worth of big rocks to block encampments on their block.

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