Discussion Continues on Skid Row Homeless Property Lawsuit


LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Los Angeles City Council is scheduled to meet with its attorneys in a closed meeting today to discuss a potential lawsuit settlement that addresses the private property of homeless people on Skid Row.

The City Council last met with representatives of the City Attorneys' Office in March, when it voted to settle the lawsuit on a 10-2 vote and authorized the city attorney to negotiate the details of the settlement. Although the details of the lawsuit were not announced, it signaled the city will likely accept a policy limiting its power on encampment cleanups.

Los Angeles has long struggled with how to clean up and regulate homeless encampments and in 2016 passed a law limiting the amount of belongings a homeless person can store on the sidewalk to 60 gallons. But in response to a lawsuit, a federal judge issued an injunction barring Los Angeles police and sanitation officers from seizing and destroying homeless people's property in and near Skid Row.

U.S. District Judge S. James Otero's injunction also ordered the city to segregate and store impounded belongings where they can be recovered, and the increased regulation has led to an escalation in the size of homeless encampments on Skid Row, where thousands of homeless people are located. The city is allowed to confiscate or destroy contraband, crime evidence and hazardous material or rat-infested property posing public health and safety issues.

During a recent City Council meeting, Councilman Joe Buscaino pointed to the federal court ruling as being partly responsible for a typhus outbreak at City Hall earlier this year since it has led to a significant increase in homeless encampments in downtown.

“That injunction is prohibiting our outreach workers from getting to our most vulnerable homeless population in and around the downtown area. So rats are a symbol of this injunction,” said Buscaino, who voted against the settlement along with Councilman Jose Huizar, who represents the Skid Row area.

Photo: Getty Images

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