L.A. City Council Settles Homeless Rights Case, Limiting Skid Row Cleanup

In a vote that is likely to limit the destruction of homeless encampments on skid row, the Los Angeles City Council authorized City Attorney Mike Feuer to settle a 2016 lawsuit on behalf of homeless people and two skid row anti-poverty groups.

The 10-2 vote settles the case Carl Mitchell v. Los Angeles, brought by civil rights lawyers to protect the homeless on skid row. Businesses in downtown LA opposed the deal for obvious reasons, arguing that settling the case would "deter development and leave skid row and the people who live on its sidewalks mired in squalor," the LA Times reports.

The city of Los Angeles adopted an ordinance in 2016, limiting homeless people's belongings to what would fit in a 60-gallon bag as well as a policy that said the city has to give 24-hour notice of cleanups and store confiscated items where they can be readily claimed.

However, civil rights lawyers filed the lawsuit later the same year alleging the city was using the street cleanups as 'pretexts to dismantle' the homeless camps and destroy their property. U.S. District Judge S. James Otero then issued an injunction that barred the city from seizing and destroying vagrant's property on skid row unless officials could show it had been "abandoned, threatened public health or safety, or consisted of contraband or evidence of a crime."

Councilman Jose Huizar voted against the deal on Wednesday, saying the settlement would only cover skid row and adjoining streets, including part of Little Tokyo and Main Street. Huizar said L.A. was continuing “to treat skid row as a dumping ground for homeless people.”

Councilman Joe Buscaino also opposed the settlement saying, “We deserve a city safe and free of public health hazards,” Buscaino said after the vote. “Every time we propose a solution (to homelessness) we get slammed for it.”

Photo: Getty Images

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