LB Homeless/Vagrant Council Policy Showdown Coming In Re-Vote Tonight
|UPDATE: As seen LIVE: Council Votes 5-1 (Uranga Dissents, Pearce Leaves Prior To Vote, Richardson Absent Entire Meeting, 1st dist. Vacant) To Send Support "Letter" -- Not Council Policy-Setting Resolution -- After Andrews Flips/Opposes Agenda Item He Co-Agendized And Previously Voted For; Price Scrambles To Change Motion To Support Letter (Might Be Signed By City Mgr, Not Necessarily Mayor) Further updated coverage w/ Perspective here.
(Oct. 15, 2019, 12:15 p.m.) -- A showdown City Council vote on LB homeless/vagrant policy is scheduled tonight (Oct. 15) on rarely discussed but profoundly different views on how the City should address its increasingly visible homeless/vagrant populations and the health/safety and neighborhood impacts from individuals sleeping or creating encampments on LB public property (sidewalks, parks and beaches.)
Tonight's (Oct. 15) item, re-agendized by Councilwoan Suzie Price (original lead agendizer) is joined by Councilmembers Stacy Mungo, Al Austin and Dee Andrews -- on whether to approve a formal City Council resolution supporting Los Angeles County's "friend of the court" brief (approved on a 3-2 Board of Supervisors vote) urging the U.S. Supreme Court to hear (and overturn) a lower court opinion in Martin v. City of Boise that held it's "cruel and unusual punishment" under the U.S. constitution for a local jurisdiction to apply its local laws carrying criminal penalties to homeless/vagrant persons sleeping on public property unless it also has sufficient shelter beds for all homeless/vagrant persons within its jurisdiction..
It's the same item that was agendized on Oct. 8 when it fell short of five votes needed for passage (with Councilman Al Austin absent for the entire meeting and Councilwoman Stacy Mungo prematurely exiting Council meeting.) Austin and Mungo were both on record supporting the motion in the past, and Vice Mayor Dee Andrews was prepared to join them and has now joined in re-agendizing it. If no one flips, that would presumably produce five supportive Council votes (Price, Supernaw, Mungo, Andrews, Austin) for passage (assuming Richardson, Uranga and Pearce vote "no" as they have previously.).
But then what? Will Mayor Garcia veto putting the City on record as favoring overturning the Boise opinion? A Mayoral vaeto would requiring six Council votes to override...and if no one flips, that would make the outcome of the 1st Council district race potentially pivotal on this citywide homeless/vagrant policy issue.
Prior to this issue arising, LB's policy-setting City Council hasn't seriously discussed how to deal locally with homeless/vagrancy issues: should the City of LB (and other cities/counties) be able to apply local laws in dealing with the issue OR should local cities/counties be unable to do so unless they offer sufficient housing/shelter beds for all homeless/vagrants within its city limits?
[Scroll down for further.]
On Oct 1, an initial item (asking the City Attorney to draft the resolution) produced sharply split and intense Council debate. Lead-agendizer Councilwoman Price framed the issue as supporting the right of the City to enforce its local anti-camping ordinances with health and safety impacts. In opposition, but Councilman Rex Richardson argued against the action on grounds Martin v. City of Boise doesn't flatly prevent enforcement of local laws but rather ties them local enforcement to the availability of shelter beds.
Councilman Richardson -- who has endorsed Mary Zendejas in the race -- sought to reframe the issue as a matter of providing local shelter/housing capacity. Bt critics of the Boise opinion (multiple cities and jurisdictions) say the lower court's opinion effectively stymies their ability to enforce their laws by exposing them to potential constitutional rights lawsuits over whether they do or don't have sufficient shelter beds available for everyone needing them.
The Oct. 1 motion (to ask the City Attorney to draft the resolution) carried on a 4-3 vote (Yes: Price, Supernaw, Mungo, Austin; No: Pearce, Uranga, Richardson)...with Councilman Roberto Uranga -- who'd co-agendized the Oct. 1 item with Price -- flipping his stance and voting "no" (and also voted "no" on Oct. 8.)
In her Oct 1 agendizing memo, Councilwoman Pearce wrote:
[Oct.1 agendizing memo text] ...[The Martin opinion] severely limits our ability to address issues of homelessness and the appropriate protections of the rights held by everyone to access public spaces. The City needs to have the ability to appropriately regulate public camping and enforce our City ordinances with the objective of protecting everyone equally and maintaining public health standards.
In September amid intense discussion, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors split 3-2 to file a brief to overturn Martin v. City of Boise...with Supervisors Hahn, Barger and Ridley-Thomas voting "yes" and Supervisors Kuehl and Solis voting "no."
The U.S. Supreme Court denies most petitions for certiorari and lets most lower court opinions stand...but in April 2019, four of the 9th district's appeals court judges expressed strongly worded disagreement with their 9th circuit colleagues' reasoning in Martin (at one point including a newspaper photo of a downtown L.A. homeless encampment in their dissent.)
Multiple cities, counties, states, municipal advocacy, business and neighborhood groups timely filed "Friend of the Court" briefs by the Sept. 25 deadline urging the Supreme Court to take up the Martin case. LBREPORT.com lists and links to their briefs below.
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