Costa Mesa Might Confiscate Items Left by Homeless

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COSTA MESA, Calif. (KTLA) — The city of Costa Mesa is considering a law that would let police confiscate homeless people’s unattended belongings in public spaces.

The City Council is set to vote on the ordinance at its meeting on Tuesday night, the Orange County Register reports.

homeless-cartThe law would apply to parks, sidewalks, alleys and recreation areas — essentially, anywhere the public can access.

Under the new law, officials would store the confiscated property for 90 days and, if possible, post a notice at the place where it was taken.

People would be able to claim their belongings for an undisclosed fee during that 90-day period.

They would also be subject to a misdemeanor and an infraction, with a fine up to $100 for the first offense.

After 90 days, the city would deem the property unclaimed and could choose to sell it at auction, keep it or destroy it.

The city says the law is intended to address the concerns of residents who have complained about their parks being overtaken by clutter.

Officials insist the intent of the ordinance is not punitive. They hope it will encourage homeless people to carry less, or to use storage facilities.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals previously ruled that city workers in Los Angeles could not seize and destroy personal belongings left on sidewalks.

Costa Mesa officials hope the provisions for storing the items for a period of time and posting notices will help their law avoid a similar fate.

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