Supervisor Lindsey Horvath casts a vote on February 7 against L.A. County supporting the city of Grants Pass, Oregon, in its U.S. Supreme Court appeal.
Supervisors Kathryn Barger and Janice Hahn introduced a motion to back the appeal that challenged the legality of enforcing outdoor camping restrictions.
Two 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rulings that struck down cities’ ability to enforce public camping restrictions against the homeless unless there is adequate alternative shelter space available.
“This motion encourages the Supreme Court to clarify our state and local governments’ ability to protect and support the rights of our housed and unhoused constituents alike,” Barger said after the 3-2 vote. “If local governments are restricted from regulating the presence of encampments on public property, we are left powerless when trying to effectively address our worsening homelessness crisis.”
The appeals court rulings “have tied the hands of cities and counties in imposing common-sense time and place restrictions on some key public spaces to keep people safe and move those who want assistance into shelter,” Hahn said.
City News Services reported that multiple homeless advocates urged the Board of Supervisors not to get involved in the Grants Pass litigation, saying it should instead be prioritizing efforts to provide shelter and other resources to guide people out of homelessness.
Horvath said the Grants Pass case “would further enable cities to push people from community to community, without a commitment to housing or services.”
“Relying on this case is not a solution to homelessness,” she said. “The only meaningful way to end the homelessness crisis we are seeing nationwide is to invest in safe, affordable housing options that include supportive services for our most vulnerable community members.”
Hilda Solis joined Horvath in voting no and said, “If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the city of Grants Pass, Oregon, people experiencing homelessness may lose this constitutional protection. “Furthermore, it could lead to the criminalization of people who are simply trying to survive. We can and must do better by addressing the root causes of homelessness rather than taking the easy way out by citing, fining, and incarcerating our most vulnerable neighbors.”
But the motion passed when Supervisor Holly Mitchell agreed to vote in favor, after she added an amendment clearly stating that the county does not support the criminalization of homelessness.