The Los Angeles City Council moved closer Wednesday to approving a settlement of a lawsuit that addresses the private property of homeless people on Skid Row.
The council voted 12-2 to authorize the city attorney to finalize the proposed settlement, which would still need to be finalized by a judge. No details have yet been publicly released.
Councilmen Joe Buscaino and Jose Huizar voted against the action, as they did when the issue was previously discussed in a closed session.
The City Council previously voted 10-2 in March to authorize the city attorney to negotiate the details of the settlement, which signaled the city will likely accept a policy limiting its power on encampment cleanups.
Los Angeles has long struggled with how to clean up and regulate homeless encampments and in 2016 passed a law limiting the amount of belongings a homeless person can store on the sidewalk to 60 gallons. But in response to the lawsuit, Carl Mitchell v. City of Los Angeles, a federal judge issued an injunction barring Los Angeles police and sanitation officers from seizing and destroying homeless people’s property in and near Skid Row. U.S. District Judge S. James Otero’s injunction also ordered the city to segregate and store impounded belongings where they can be recovered.
The increased regulation has led to an escalation in the size of homeless encampments on Skid Row, where thousands of homeless people congregate. The city is allowed to confiscate or destroy contraband, crime evidence and hazardous material or rat-infested property posing public health and safety issues.
In explaining his opposition to a settlement after the March vote, Councilman Joe Buscaino pointed to the federal court ruling as being partly responsible for a typhus outbreak at City Hall earlier this year, since it has led to a significant increase in homeless encampments in downtown.
“That injunction is prohibiting our outreach workers from getting to our most vulnerable homeless population in and around the downtown area. So rats are a symbol of this injunction,” Buscaino said in voting against a settlement along with Huizar, who represents the Skid Row area.