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City, homeless advocates disagree on new law limiting homeless people’s property

Mar 31, 2016

LA To Ask Supreme Court For Right To Remove Homeless' Belongings From Streets

A member of a clean-up crew looks at belongings of a homeless person on a public sidewalk February 28, 2013 in downtown skid row area of Los Angeles, California.; Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Whatever can be fit into a 60-gallon container is what the homeless are allowed to store on sidewalks, alleys, and parkways in the city of Los Angeles.

That’s according to a new law the city council passed in a 13-1 vote on Wednesday.

A revised version of the law known as 56.11 says the homeless can store as much as can fit in a bin the size of a city trash can. The city can confiscate and hold for 90 days anything that can’t fit in that bin, so long as it gives 24 hours of notice. Another part of the law would have restricted belongings to what could fit in a backpack if the city provided general storage, but the council backed off of those regulations.

The law isn’t sitting well with some homeless advocates, who argue the law puts enforcement ahead of storage and that it would be cheaper to just build more housing. The lone no vote on city council came from Gil Cedillo. Councilman Mike Bonin, whose district represents Venice and parts of the Westside, says the law opens up the city to lawsuits and that he only voted yes because the law that was in place was even worse.

Do you think the new law goes too far or not far enough? Do you think this is the right way to deal with the homeless problem?

Guest:

Joe Buscaino, Los Angeles City Councilmember representing District 15

Carol Sobel, a civil rights attorney who has represented L.A.’s homeless in federal courts

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