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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

What does the Jones Settlement, Ninth Circuit (Boise case) Decision Have to Do With LA Homeless?

The Jones Settlement, the Ninth Circuit court decision have been bantered around a lot and people are curious about these two in relation to the Los Angeles homeless situation. Mark Ryavec, president of the Venice Stakeholders Association recently wrote the following to Venice United group in reply to an inaccurate statement. It seems worth printing to help readers get clarification on these two subjects.

I will say again:

The Jones Settlement is a dead issue. The city built the 1250 units of permanent supportive housing required by Jones and even the Mayor declared last year that the settlement was satisfied.

The Boise, Idaho Martin decision does not apply to Los Angeles. This is from our attorney’s letter to Bonin, Garcetti, and Moore of November 2, 2018:

In their argument for enforcement (of LAMC 41.18) only near Bridge Housing facilities, Chief Moore, Mayor Garcetti and other Bridge Housing proponents have cited to a recent decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Martin v. Boise (Case No. No. 15-35845). However, that case holds, at most, that shelter beds must be available somewhere in the City before an ordinance like section 41.18(d) can be enforced.

In Martin, the City of Boise had a program in which the three homeless shelters in the city each self-reported to the city whether they were full each day. If they weren’t, the police were free to issue citations to people sleeping on public property. A group of homeless persons sued the city, contending that even though one of the shelters had routinely reported that it had free beds, in fact these beds were not available to some offenders, either because of restrictions on length of stay, limited check-in times, or a requirement to participate in religious programs. Under these circumstances, the court noted that there was evidence that despite the self-reporting of the shelters, shelter beds were not actually available to violators. On that basis the court denied the city’s request to dismiss the case and allowed it to proceed.

The City of Boise is approximately 9 miles by 9 miles in size, making up over 82 square miles. The average low temperature in December and January is 23 degrees. Yet the Martin court said nothing about the distance between the homeless persons to be cited and the available shelter beds; much less did it set any minimum requirement for that distance. Nor did the court even imply that the city was obligated to offer an actual shelter bed to a violator, or to transport the violator to a shelter, as a precondition of issuing a citation. Instead, the court merely found that in order to cite an offender, a shelter bed must be available somewhere in the city.

In sum, the City of Los Angeles is basing its Bridge Housing siting practices upon a myth – namely, that the Jones Settlement, and/or the Martin decision, requires that shelter beds must be in close proximity to the violator in order to allow enforcement of section 41.18(d).

In fact, there is nothing in the Jones Settlement or the Martin decision that precludes the City from pursuing the model favored by VSA, in which police officers themselves (or social workers working in tandem with them) make credible, documented offers of housing and transportation, and then, when such offers are rejected, proceed to enforce section 41.18(d).

The Mayor, Councilman Bonin and the ACLU have been mischaraterizing the Martin decision to support their ideological position favoring no enforcement of ordinances (41.18 and 56.11) that indeed allow the LAPD and Sanitation to break up encampments.

Finally, we have yet to see City Attorney Feuer definitely state whether there is anything new in the Martin decision from the earlier take-away from Jones: to enforce 41.18 at night and avoid another Jones-like lawsuit there must be a credible offer of a shelter bed. But I have been saying this for over five years. And nothing in Jones or Martin restricts enforcing 41.18 from 6 am to 9 pm, so I would again call upon the LAPD, in instances where campers are living within 300 feet of residences, to wake them all up at 6 am, double back at 6:30 am, and if they have not moved on, cite them and then the next day if they are still sitting on the sidewalk after 6 am, arrest them, and after a few arrests, apply for a stay away order. I appreciate that this process is labor intensive, but life is hell otherwise for residents when these encampments are just a few feet away.

Comment (1)

  1. LaVista

    Labor intensive or not, the job of LAPD is to serve and protect the law abiding citizen and rout out the law breakers. None of your common sense options for street vagrants are enforced . There is absolutely, absolutely no good reason behind the stand back policies we are seeing all over Los Angeles from the police, notwithstanding the lame policies City Hall is trying to pull over everyone’s head. .

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