L.A. City Council Could Settle Ongoing Legal Battle Over Seizure of Homeless People’s Property

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Homeless people set up tarps and tents in downtown Los Angeles' Skid Row in May 2016. (Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Homeless people set up tarps and tents in downtown Los Angeles’ Skid Row in May 2016. (Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday is poised to end or extend a pivotal legal battle over homeless people’s property rights — a case that has been framed as a bellwether for both downtown development and the future of skid row.

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.

The city has lost or settled a skein of past litigation over the destruction of homeless people’s possessions. And after Otero issued the injunction against improper seizures, City Atty. Mike Feuer recommended coming to a compromise with the plaintiffs.

Read the full story at LATimes.com.

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