Council rejects settlement on homeless suit

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe Christmas Truce of 1914 proved that peace is possibleFiled in February 2003 against the Los Angeles Police Department and Chief Bill Bratton, the suit challenges an ordinance making it illegal to sit, sleep or lie on a public sidewalk. A federal appeals court ruled in April that Los Angeles police must stop arresting people who are sleeping or sitting on public sidewalks when shelter beds are not available. The proposed settlement would have prohibited encampments within 10 feet of any residential or business entrance and would have established an area bounded by Central Avenue and Los Angeles Street and Third and Seventh streets where encampments would be allowed. Police would have been allowed to arrest those sleeping on sidewalks outside the designated area from 9p.m. to 6a.m. In rejecting that plan, the council said it wants the LAPD to work with the City Attorney’s Office to develop new guidelines on dealing with the homeless. The City Council rejected a proposed lawsuit settlement Wednesday that would have allowed transients to sleep on some Los Angeles sidewalks at night and instead authorized the city to appeal the federal ruling in the case. After a three-hour, closed-door meeting, the council voted 10-3 to support Councilwoman Jan Perry’s effort to appeal, saying the settlement would have worsened conditions. “I have tried to set an example on dealing with the homeless,” said Perry, whose downtown district has 39percent of the estimated 90,000 homeless people in the county. “But this is a community with businesses and families that have to be considered as well. Many of the homeless … Skid Row is already overloaded with homeless people, and this settlement only punishes the people trying to help them.” The council also voted to provide money to establish an additional 500 beds at shelter spaces in the downtown area. “Their decision is what it is,” Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said of the council action. “I had supported the settlement agreement based on what the chief of police, the city attorney and the ACLU all believed was a way to abide by the thrust of the court decision while allowing Los Angeles the flexibility to address the safety issues that come with these encampments.” Bratton said he was disappointed. “We will meet with the city attorney this week and develop some guidelines on what procedures we should follow,” Bratton said. Bratton said the move will not interrupt law enforcement efforts, including plans to deploy an additional 50 specially trained officers to Skid Row this weekend. Bratton said he will propose some new programs, including a measure that would ban tents on city sidewalks. Carol Sobel, the attorney with the ACLU who filed the legal action three years ago, said the homeless situation downtown has not improved. “In fact, it’s gotten worse,” she said. “We have fewer beds available today than we did then, and the number of homeless have just increased in that period.” Councilman Jose Huizar, who was joined by Councilmen Bill Rosendahl and Jack Weiss in opposing the council action, said he thinks the council should have accepted the settlement. “What I’m concerned with is that we are criminalizing people for being homeless,” Huizar said. “It isn’t the right thing to do.” Staff Writer Kerry Cavanaugh contributed to this report. [email protected] (213) 978-0390160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more