L.A.’s Ability to Seize and Destroy Homeless People’s Property Limited After City Council Settles Case

A homeless man stands before his belongings at his encampment on a downtown Los Angeles sidewalk as vehicles pass by on June 7, 2017. (Credit: Frederic J. Brown / AFP / Getty Images)

A homeless man stands before his belongings at his encampment on a downtown Los Angeles sidewalk as vehicles pass by on June 7, 2017. (Credit: Frederic J. Brown / AFP / Getty Images)

The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday agreed to settle a pivotal and contentious case on the property rights of homeless people — a decision that is likely to limit the seizure and destruction of encampments on skid row.

The 10-2 vote to authorize the city attorney to cut a deal came at the behest of anti-poverty advocates and over opposition from downtown business groups, which had argued that settling would leave skid row and the people who live on its sidewalks mired in squalor, and deter downtown redevelopment.

The city has wrestled with the property rights issue for years, and in 2016 adopted an ordinance limiting homeless people’s belongings to what would fit in a 60-gallon bag. The law also requires the city to give 24-hour notice of cleanups and to store confiscated items where they can be reclaimed on skid row.

But after a lawsuit was filed in 2016, U.S. District Judge S. James Otero in Los Angeles barred the city from seizing and destroying homeless people’s belongings on skid row unless officials could show the property is abandoned, threatens public health or safety, or consists of contraband or evidence of a crime.

Read the full story at LATimes.com.

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