Los Angeles County Homeless Encampment Policy Is Positively Humane Compared To The City Of Los Angeles — So In December 2018 When The County Found That It Had To Work With The City On An Encampment At Nadeau And Alameda They Said That If The City Was Going To Follow Its Usual Practices With Respect To The Homeless People’s Property The County Would Not Participate — Then Brian Buchner Of The Unified Homeless Response Center Flat-Out Lied About The Nature Of City Policies — If He’s Ashamed Of The True Confiscation Policy It Is Probably Time To Change It To Something That’s Not Shameful — Not Cruel — Not Inhumane — Not Litigation Bait — If We’re Going To Be Purely Practical

The City of Los Angeles is well-known for its particularly cruel policies towards homeless people living in encampments. City workers confiscate and destroy essential property like medicine and legal papers. They pointlessly force people to move by breaking up their encampments without offering alternatives, and so on. The City has been sued often and sued successfully many times for these practices, and they will be sued again and again and again.

And as immersed as I am in municipal politics, it’s easy to forget that there are many, many other local jurisdictions dealing with homelessness, even within the City of Los Angeles itself. There’s CalTrans, Metro, the County, and of course any number of other cities and authorities. And sometimes they have to work together for various reasons, like property administered by one agency that’s within the boundaries of another, and so on.

Last year the City created the Unified Homeless Response Center to implement its policies. The head of the UHRC is Brian Buchner, who’s some kind of staffer in Eric Garcetti’s office. And the other major departments involved with homelessness also have people assigned to the UHRC as well. For instance, LAPD’s Emada Tingirides and others. And I recently obtained a huge set of emails between Buchner and Tingirides, along with attachments.

This material is available here on Archive.Org. It’s already proving invaluable in understanding UHRC policies and procedures as well as the software tools they’re using in their responses to homelessness. It is an incredibly rich, incredibly complex set of stuff and I’m going to be analyzing and writing about this material for quite a while, but today’s post is based on a tiny fragment, which is this email conversation between Buchner and Michael Castillo, who’s with the Los Angeles County Homeless Initiative.

Here’s the short version of the story, and you can find a complete transcription of the emails below. Castillo was readying his team to dismantle an encampment at Nadeau and Alameda Streets. He’s careful to say that the County does not in fact destroy encampments as a matter of policy. In fact, he says, as a matter of policy they do not:

It is not the practice of Measure H funded teams to “shuffle” our homeless neighbors from one location to another, but instead to work with them where they are.

However, this particular encampment was very close to the train tracks along Alameda and so, he says, the County decided that they had to break it up. This required the involvement of the Alameda Corridor Transit Authority, and ACTA told Castillo that this particular encampment was on property belonging to the City of Los Angeles, which meant that LAMC 56.11 would be in force.

But Castillo wasn’t having it if what he’d heard was true. He was unwilling even to participate in encampment breaking under City of LA rules:

We, myself, Lt. Deedrick, and Measure H outreach supervisors, were informed that the plan under 56.11 would call for tearing down all structures and leaving them on the site for 90 days, i.e., store them on site in the open, which we feel is somewhat inhuman and could lead to a lawsuit. Lt. Deedrick, HOST lead, and I informed the ACTA that if this is the plan Measure H funded outreach teams and the HOST cannot be on site on January 7th.

Castillo was also really worried about the absolute necessity to distinguish between personal items and trash:

In addition, Lt. Deedrick and his team have been talking to the homeless persons on site at Nadeau this week to identify personal items versus trash and they’ve taken record of said conversations. This record will allow the cleaning crew to easily separate trash from personal items on January 7th.

And this kind of concern, this refusal to participate in immoral, inhuman, and liability-inducing activities, is admirable. If no one was willing to carry out the immoral and inhuman policies of the City of Los Angeles then the City of Los Angeles wouldn’t be immoral and inhuman. The only possible reason why things are different in the County is that the County must create an atmosphere where humanity and morality are expected. The opposite is true, obviously, with the City.

And you know, Brian Buchner didn’t have a good answer for this. At least he didn’t have a good true answer. But he had a good and patently false answer, which was that not only did the City not destroy the personal property of the homeless, not only did they store it safely in secure storage, but they would deliver it back to its owner at any time whenever they needed it:

Michael, that is an incorrect understanding or interpretation of the City’s policies and procedures under LAMC 56.11. We do not store people’s property “on site in the open” under any circumstances. We have dedicated storage sites across the City where we store all impounded property. When an individual needs access to their property, we deliver it directly to them within the hour no matter where in the City they are.

And there you have it. Brian Buchner is a liar. The Unified Homeless Response Center of the City of Los Angeles is being run by a liar.1 A liar who implements the inhuman policies of his masters at 200 N. Spring Street even while he’s lying about what those policies are. That’s where this City’s homelessness policy is now. Turn the page for a complete transcription of the conversation.


On Thu, Dec 20, 2018 at 9:48 AM Michael Castillo <mcastillo@ceo.lacounty.gov> wrote:

Christina/Meg,

Hello, hope this finds you well (sorry for the long email). On November 21, 2017, the Board of Supervisors approved a motion instructing the CEO, LAHSA, and other stakeholders to develop a plan with the Alameda Corridor Transit Authority (ACTA) to develop a plan to address homeless encampments along the Corridor; attached is the Board report developed by our Office based on planning efforts with the aforementioned entities. This email serves to provide you with information on work done to date to address the encampments and to share some recent developments:

For the past 13 months Measure H funded outreach teams have conducted outreach at the various encampments along the Corridor, the most impacted and populated location is the Nadeau St. encampment. In addition to the engagement by the outreach teams the LASD Homeless Outreach Services Team (HOST) has also engaged our homeless neighbors living at said encampments, the HOST has mostly focused on Nadeau.

The teams have had a lot of success over the 13 months connecting folks to services, benefits, shelter, housing, family reunification, etc. Four of the 5 encampments (see map attached to Board report) no longer exist, however the Nadeau location continues to be inhabited. Most of the original dwellers at Nadeau are no longer living at the location, but a new group of inhabitants are now at the location. In November, I presented to the ACTA Board informing them of what’s been accomplished to date and I submitted a recommendation to allow for more intensive engagement for another 6 to 8 weeks at the Nadeau site, which the Board agreed to.

It is not the practice of Measure H funded teams to “shuffle” our homeless neighbors from one location to another, but instead to work with them where they are. That said, because of the dangerous circumstances at Nadeau given the proximity to the railroad tracks it was recently decided that the Nadeau site must be closed. A clean up at the Nadeau site is scheduled for January 7th and at that time the ACTA will begin erecting a fence that cannot be breached to permanently close the site. I received a report yesterday informing me that there are 20 people at the Nadeau site remaining and the hope is that those individuals will accept services/shelter prior to January 7th . The plan is for intensive outreach and engagement to continue through January 7 th and outreach teams as well as HOST to be on site on January 7th.

This week, on Monday, I was informed by the ACTA that the Nadeau site is City of LA property and that the ACTA must follow City Ordinance 56.11 in addressing the encampment (see attached email thread which begins with a December 4th email from the City Attorney to the ACTA). We, myself, Lt. Deedrick, and Measure H outreach supervisors, were informed that the plan under 56.11 would call for tearing down all structures and leaving them on the site for 90 days, i.e., store them on site in the open, which we feel is somewhat inhuman and could lead to a lawsuit.

Lt. Deedrick, HOST lead, and I informed the ACTA that if this is the plan Measure H funded outreach teams and the HOST cannot be on site on January 7th. As of Monday, Lt. Deedrick and I have had two conversations with ACTA staff and the ACTA staff subsequently informed their executive director of our need to pull back if the plan is store items on site, in the open. ACTA has since agreed to change the plan back to the original agreement, i.e., bring in storage units to store all personal items for up to 90 days that cannot be moved on January 7th. In addition, Lt. Deedrick and his team have been talking to the homeless persons on site at Nadeau this week to identify personal items versus trash and they’ve taken record of said conversations. This record will allow the cleaning crew to easily separate trash from personal items on January 7th.

Again, I apologize for the long email but Phil and I felt it was important to share all this information with you in the event you were not aware of what’s been happening at Nadeau and what will take place over the next couple of weeks. Let me know if you have any questions or if you’d like to discuss this matter.

Thanks,

Michael


On Fri, Dec 21, 2018 at 7:42 AM Christina Miller <christina.miller@lacity.org> wrote:

Thank you Michael for the summary of activity in this area. I am including Brian and
Commander Choi so we can follow up on our side.


From: Brian Buchner <brian.buchner@lacity.org>
Sent: Friday, December 21, 2018 1:52 PM
To: Christina Miller <christina.miller@lacity.org>
Cc: Dominic H Choi <32350@lapd.online>; Michael Castillo <mcastillo@ceo.lacounty.gov>; Gerardo Ramirez <jramirez@ceo.lacounty.gov>; Meg Barclay <meg.barclay@lacity.org>; Phil Ansell <PAnsell@ceo.lacounty.gov>
Subject: Re: Alameda Corridor Transit Authority Encampments

Thanks, Christina, for looping us in.

Michael, that is an incorrect understanding or interpretation of the City’s policies and procedures under LAMC 56.11. We do not store people’s property “on site in the open” under any circumstances. We have dedicated storage sites across the City where we store all impounded property. When an individual needs access to their property, we deliver it directly to them within the hour no matter where in the City they are.

Please let us know who from your office and ACTA we should work with to address the encampments at Nadeau on January 7th. Coordination on the City side will occur through the Unified Homelessness Response Center.

Thanks.

Brian


From: Michael Castillo <mcastillo@ceo.lacounty.gov>
Date: Sun, Jan 6, 2019 at 11:55 AM
Subject: RE: Alameda Corridor Transit Authority Encampments
To: Brian Buchner <brian.buchner@lacity.org>, Christina Miller <christina.miller@lacity.org>
Cc: Dominic H Choi <32350@lapd.online>, Gerardo Ramirez <jramirez@ceo.lacounty.gov>, Meg Barclay <meg.barclay@lacity.org>, Phil Ansell <PAnsell@ceo.lacounty.gov>

Brian,

Hello and Happy New Year. Sorry for the delayed response, I’ve been on vacation with
intermittent access to emails.

I’m happy to read that the City does not support “storing items in the open.” It seems that there was some miscommunication along the way with the efforts to address the Nadeau encampment. Before leaving for vacation a couple of weeks ago I was able to confirm that the ACTA will have storage containers at the ready tomorrow at Nadeau.

I am our contact for this issue and the ACTA contact is Manny Hernandez. Manny’s emails address is ■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■ He is very accessible and starts his work day at 6AM. Let me know if you need additional information from me or if I can assist further in any way.

Michael



Image of Brian Buchner is ©2019 MichaelKohlhaas.Org and was ripped, slipped, and flipped from this lil pancake here.

  1. Technically he’s either a liar or he’s not aware of the central policy being implemented by the organization the control of which is his sole responsibility. It’s better that he be a liar although neither option is good.
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