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Supreme Court won't review case on how LA deals with homeless possessions

By Hayley Fox
Published: Monday, June 24, 2013, at 04:57PM
Bear Guerra/KPCC

The U.S. Supreme Court has decided not to review the restrictions that stop city officials from removing and destroying homeless people's property left on the sidewalk.

The U.S. Supreme Court will not review a controversial case that puts restrictions on how the city of Los Angeles can removes and disposes of the possessions of the homeless living on Skid Row.

The case in question is Lavan vs. Los Angeles, in which eight homeless people claimed their personal belongings were illegally taken from the street when they got up to use the restroom or eat a meal. The court determined that the city was not allowed to remove and destroy unattended property on the sidewalk, citing Fourth and 14th Amendment violations.

“You can’t take people’s property and destroy it. Our evidence in support of this injunction was overwhelming," said Carol Sobel, attorney for the homeless.

The City of L.A. has tried to both appeal and amend the resulting injunction for the past two years. Many city officials say the ruling has led to the deterioration of health and sanitary conditions on Skid Row, by allowing homeless individuals to accumulate property on the sidewalk.

“People have a right to live in a clean and safe place, even if their home happens to be on our city streets,” said City Attorney Carmen Trutanich earlier this year.

Last week, the City put in an application to amend the injunction, but it was denied.

"...Now the Supreme Court has rejected their petition and the settlement discussions are dead," said Sobel. "I’m hoping that at this point we can revive the settlement discussions and do something that is practical to address this problem."

The attorney added that she hopes the settlement will include citywide policy changes in regards to the homeless. She is also seeking monetary compensation for the eight plaintiffs who had their property taken.

Blogdowntown reached out to the L.A. City Attorney's office but has not received a comment.

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