Tag Archives: LAMC 56.11

Emails From The Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office Reveal The Existence Of Pilot Programs To Handle Homeless Encampments — Known As Operation Please Follow The Rules — (Not Making That Up) — That Literally Condition Provision Of Social Services On Taking Tents Down During The Day — Featuring The Direct Participation And Complicity Of Private Social Service Providers — Cornerstone And The People Concern — In This Project — Actually Agreeing To Withhold Services From Noncompliant Homeless People — And To Tell LAPD Who’s Compliant And Who’s Not — So That LAPD Can Arrest Noncompliers — And These People Wonder Why Everyone Lies To Them — Why Nobody Trusts Them — It’s Pretty Obvious Why

Services Not Sweeps is a coalition of dozens of Los Angeles area community organizations who are working for, among other things, the removal of LAPD from all City street cleaning initiatives. There are many reasons for excluding law enforcement officers from encampment cleanups. Police arrest people or do worse to them. The threat they represent, the linking of that threat with the service providers present, cannot help but discourage homeless residents from cooperating in the cleaning process, from taking advantage of the offered services.

Arresting people who are already suffering by being forced to live on the streets destroys any trust the arrestees, their families, their neighbors, might have had in the good intentions of the system. It destroys what might be left of their dignity. It is a bad, bad thing. These encampment sweep teams include not only LAPD, but LA Sanitation workers and other City officials, and the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority is tasked with pre-sweep outreach. Outreach, at least ideally, consists of offering various social services to the encampment residents and, in theory, helping them take advantage of whatever help is available to them.

And I wasn’t previously aware of this fact, but it turns out that at least sometimes the City invites private social services organizations to be part of the encampment sweep process. Two such groups are Cornerstone and The People Concern. These organizations’ websites, well, they hit all the right notes. E.g Cornerstone talks up “clients develop[ing] trusting relationships with counselors” and TPC is all about “build[ing] self-sufficiency, restor[ing] dignity and help[ing] our vulnerable neighbors become contributing members of the community”.

But these laudable ideals are belied by the fact that at least on some occasions both of these groups have been complicit in pilot programs, organized by the City Attorney’s office, that attempt to coerce people living in encampments into taking their tents down during the day by actually “making services dependent on following this rule” and, with the blessing of the LAPD, immunizing them from arrest if they complied by taking down tents when told to do so.

These programs were evidently started because, in the thoroughly idiotic and offensive words of Assistant City Attorney Tamar Galatzan, “everyone was getting frustrated that the homeless people were telling outreach one thing and LAPD another”. And in its inimitably totalitarian style the City Attorney seems to have called these programs “Operation Please Follow The Rules”.

It’s certainly difficult enough to gain the trust of people who, forced by circumstances beyond their control to live in encampments on public sidewalks, have seen their lives devalued by society, have been repeatedly abused and betrayed, criminalized and infantilized. And yet without gaining their trust it’s impossible to help anyone, no matter what their housing circumstance.

It’s easy to see what the City gets from the complicity of these private agencies, but it’s impossible for me to understand what the agencies get from it. Which is why I don’t explain these stories, I just tell them. And this one is told through a bunch of emails I got recently from the City Attorney’s office. Read on for details and transcriptions!
Continue reading Emails From The Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office Reveal The Existence Of Pilot Programs To Handle Homeless Encampments — Known As Operation Please Follow The Rules — (Not Making That Up) — That Literally Condition Provision Of Social Services On Taking Tents Down During The Day — Featuring The Direct Participation And Complicity Of Private Social Service Providers — Cornerstone And The People Concern — In This Project — Actually Agreeing To Withhold Services From Noncompliant Homeless People — And To Tell LAPD Who’s Compliant And Who’s Not — So That LAPD Can Arrest Noncompliers — And These People Wonder Why Everyone Lies To Them — Why Nobody Trusts Them — It’s Pretty Obvious Why

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We Learned Recently That Various LAPD Officers Have Been Helping Venice Housedwellers Store Their Illegal Bulky Items Planters On The Public Sidewalk — But Police Are Supposed To Enforce The Law — Not Help A Bunch Of Persons Temporarily Experiencing Housedwellingness To Violate It — So I Turned Them All In To Internal Affairs — And You Can Read The Complaint Right Here!

Recently I obtained some emails which proved that the Los Angeles Police Department was complicit in the placement of illegal anti-homeless planters in Venice. Officers coordinated with local housedwellers to remove homeless encampments in order to facilitate planter installation. You can read that story here.

The planters are illegal for a number of reasons, but two interesting laws being violated in this context are LAMC 56.11 and LAMC 56.12. LAMC 56.11 is, of course, the famous anti-homeless ordinance banning the storage of so-called bulky items on public sidewalks. The other section, LAMC 56.12, requires property owners or other people in control of property1 to keep adjacent sidewalks free of unpermitted obstructions.

Not only that, but LAMC 11.00(m) states that “[e]very violation of this Code is punishable as a misdemeanor unless provision is otherwise made…” It turns out that LAMC 56.11 does make another provision, so that violation of that section isn’t a misdemeanor, but this isn’t the case with 56.12. If a property owner allows unpermitted planters to stay on the sidewalk they’re committing a misdemeanor.

And thus when the police ask homeless people to move so that unpermitted planters can be placed, or even when they hang around watching while Sanitation destroys encampments so that unpermitted planters can be placed, they’re facilitating the commission of a whole series of misdemeanors by the people who own or control the property adjacent to the planters.

And it’s even worse than that. LAMC 11.00(j) declares that “[w]henever in this Code any act or omission is made unlawful it shall include causing, permitting, aiding, abetting, suffering or concealing the fact of the act or omission.” That is, not only does LAMC 56.12 forbid property owners from leaving the planters in place, it actually forbids any person from “permitting, aiding, abetting, [or] suffering” the planters to remain.

So when the police do nothing about the planters, they’re actually violating LAMC 56.12 themselves. And per 11.00(m) this violation is a misdemeanor. So it’s really much worse than it would be if LAPD officers were merely complicit in other people’s violations of the law, which is already intolerable. They are themselves violating the law.

It is intolerable to have police, given extraordinary powers up to and including the power of killing people in the service of their goals, violating the very laws they’re sworn to enforce. So I wrote this complaint against all the police I know to be involved and sent it to LAPD Internal Affairs, asking them to investigate the officers and punish them if appropriate. Turn the page for some transcribed selections and stay tuned for updates!
Continue reading We Learned Recently That Various LAPD Officers Have Been Helping Venice Housedwellers Store Their Illegal Bulky Items Planters On The Public Sidewalk — But Police Are Supposed To Enforce The Law — Not Help A Bunch Of Persons Temporarily Experiencing Housedwellingness To Violate It — So I Turned Them All In To Internal Affairs — And You Can Read The Complaint Right Here!

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Rebecca Cooley v. City Of Los Angeles — On October 21, 2018 Carol Sobel Filed Yet Another Federal Suit Against The City Of Los Angeles — Alleging The Illegal Confiscation And Destruction Of The Property Of Rebecca Cooley, Benjamin Hubert, And Casimir Zoroda — Three Disabled Homeless People Living In Venice At The Time — Seeks Class Action Status For Approximately 60 Others Similarly Situated

On October 21, 2018 Carol Sobel filed suit in federal court against the City of Los Angeles on behalf of three named homeless people along with about sixty others similarly situated. The three, Rebecca Cooley, her husband Benjamin Hubert, and Casimir Zaroda, are homeless people who were living on the streets in Venice in September 2017 when the City of Los Angeles, without notice and without any kind of process, confiscated and destroyed their property, including tents, blankets, essential paperwork, transit passes, and other items essential to the maintenance of human life. The suit comes just as the City is resuming its horrific, indiscriminate sweeps of homeless encampments outside of neighborhoods covered by the various injunctions.

The initial complaint claims that the City’s actions violate constitutional bans on takings and on unlawful seizure as well as the constitutional guarantee of due process. These familiar theories have been consistently upheld by federal courts up to and including the Ninth Circuit,1 all of which have been willing to issue and/or uphold injunctions against the City’s property confiscation and destruction policies. So it’s hard to imagine that the City can prevail on these issues.

Also, because two of the three named plaintiffs are disabled along with many of the similarly situated unnamed plaintiffs, the complaint also alleges that the City violated the Americans With Disabilities Act by confiscating their essential papers and means of transportation, by storing confiscated property in locations and facilities not properly accessible to disabled people, and, in general, by following policies and practices with respect to homeless people’s property that disproportionately burden disabled people.

Turn the page for transcriptions of selections from the initial complaint.
Continue reading Rebecca Cooley v. City Of Los Angeles — On October 21, 2018 Carol Sobel Filed Yet Another Federal Suit Against The City Of Los Angeles — Alleging The Illegal Confiscation And Destruction Of The Property Of Rebecca Cooley, Benjamin Hubert, And Casimir Zoroda — Three Disabled Homeless People Living In Venice At The Time — Seeks Class Action Status For Approximately 60 Others Similarly Situated

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Rex Schellenberg v. City Of Los Angeles — In September 2018 Carol Sobel Filed Yet Another Federal Suit Against The City Of Los Angeles — Alleging Summary Confiscation And Destruction Of The Property Of An Elderly Disabled Homeless Man — And Seeking An Injunction Against These Practices — For Some Reason This Has Not Been Covered At All In The Media — Read The Initial Complaint Here

On September 3, 2018 Carol Sobel filed suit in federal court against the City of Los Angeles, alleging that Rex Schellenberg, a homeless man living in the San Fernando Valley, stepped away from his property briefly only to have it confiscated and much of it destroyed by the LAPD and LA Sanitation personnel. I can’t find anything about this case in the media, in contrast to Sobel’s other pending case on the matter, Mitchell v. City of LA, which is covered extensively. You can read and get copies of the pleadings here on Archive.Org. I’ll update the collection as more stuff is filed.

The facts of the case are simple. Schellenberg, an elderly man homeless in Los Angeles for more than twenty years and disabled as well, lives in the San Fernando Valley. In July 2017 he left his property momentarily unattended to visit a convenience store and employees of the City of Los Angeles summarily confiscated and destroyed Schellenberg’s neatly stored possessions. In its monumental decision in Lavan v. City of LA, the Ninth Circuit had this to say about this practice:

As we have repeatedly made clear, “[t]he government may not take property like a thief in the night; rather, it must announce its intentions and give the property owner a chance to argue against the taking.” This simple rule holds regardless of whether the property in question is an Escalade or [a tent], a Cadillac or a cart. The City demonstrates that it completely misunderstands the role of due process by its contrary suggestion that homeless persons instantly and permanently lose any protected property interest in their possessions by leaving them momentarily unattended in violation of a municipal ordinance. As the district court recognized, the logic of the City’s suggestion would also allow it to seize and destroy cars parked in no-parking zones left momentarily unattended.

As with all of Sobel’s writing, the initial complaint makes compelling reading. You can get a copy of the PDF here, or turn the page for a transcription of selections.
Continue reading Rex Schellenberg v. City Of Los Angeles — In September 2018 Carol Sobel Filed Yet Another Federal Suit Against The City Of Los Angeles — Alleging Summary Confiscation And Destruction Of The Property Of An Elderly Disabled Homeless Man — And Seeking An Injunction Against These Practices — For Some Reason This Has Not Been Covered At All In The Media — Read The Initial Complaint Here

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Bureau Of Street Services Chief Investigator Gary Harris Reports Back To City Council On Proposed Street Vending Ordinance — The City Must Retain The Ability To Confiscate Carts Without Hearings Or Appeals — The City Must Background-Check Vendors Near Schools In Case They’re Sex Criminals — Ricardo Lara’s Sanity In Street Vending Bill Can’t Pass Soon Enough — Cause There Is No Sanity To Be Found In The Los Angeles Lawmakers’ Discussion Of Street Vending

Even though it’s looking reasonably likely that Ricardo Lara’s deeply excellent sanity in street vending bill, SB 946, will become law when the legislature reconvenes very soon, the City of Los Angeles is still grinding away at developing its own regulation.1

This whole mess, which we have been tracking forever through every last weirdo permutation, is memorialized in Council File CF 13-1493. And this is just a short note to announce that tonight Gary Harris, the chief investigator of the Bureau of Street Services, filed his report-back announcing what his department would like to see added to the law.

And its as unhinged as any of the other unhinged contributions to this discussion over the years. First of all, Gary Harris argues that the City must reserve the right to confiscate the equipment of unlicensed vendors without hearings and without appeals and, it appears, without benefit of the United States Constitution.2 Even weirder, he wants to use LAMC 56.11 as authority to confiscate carts.

This is of course the infamous anti-homeless personal property confiscation measure. It’s written to allow the confiscation of unattended personal property, which obviously doesn’t apply to street vendors’ equipment. Additionally, a federal court has already suspended enforcement of LAMC 56.11 in Skid Row, and it’s pretty clear that the only reason enforcement hasn’t been suspended City-wide is that no one has asked a court to do it. LAMC 56.11 is itself unenforceable and is hardly a tool to be basing a sustainable street vending policy on.

Second, Gary Harris wants to require background checks for vendors that vend near schools to make sure they’re not perverts or sex criminals. It all just really makes me wonder what City, what universe, these people are living in. Here’s the deal, Mr. Gary Harris. There are already vendors vending near schools. There are already unlicensed vendors.

And maybe some of them are perverts and sex criminals. But there are certainly not vast crews of sex criminals who are not now vending but will start vending when the City passes a law, if it ever does. That’s just kooky. Whether there is a law or not the number of perverts and sex criminals selling raspados near schools will not change. There’s no crisis now, so there’s no need to prevent a notional future crisis.

Turn the page for some more commentary along with a transcription of Gary Harris’s report-back.
Continue reading Bureau Of Street Services Chief Investigator Gary Harris Reports Back To City Council On Proposed Street Vending Ordinance — The City Must Retain The Ability To Confiscate Carts Without Hearings Or Appeals — The City Must Background-Check Vendors Near Schools In Case They’re Sex Criminals — Ricardo Lara’s Sanity In Street Vending Bill Can’t Pass Soon Enough — Cause There Is No Sanity To Be Found In The Los Angeles Lawmakers’ Discussion Of Street Vending

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José Huizar Told A Bunch Of Zillionaires At The Fashion District BID Annual Meeting That It Is “Unfortunate” That BID Security Guards Are Not Allowed To Steal Homeless People’s Property — Evidently José Huizar Thinks The City Of Los Angeles Has Not Yet Paid Carol Sobel Enough Money

Last Thursday the Fashion District BID held its annual meeting. You may recall that Assemblymember Miguel Santiago gave a reprehensible little speech to kick things off, but CD14 repster José Huizar was the keynote speaker. You can watch his whole speech here, but the parts I’m specifically interested in tonight are his remarks about homeless encampments and, especially, his discussion with some guy whose name I didn’t get on the same subject. Of course there are transcriptions of all this poppycock after the break, as usual.

About homeless encampments, well, it was the usual jive. We’re going to build a lot of shelters and housing and of course, once we have enough shelters and housing we can start arresting the homeless again, so that’s good!1 Unsurprisingly, though, things got more interesting during the questions. An unnamed guy asked José Huizar about the homeless fires problem.2 After some chit-chat, the questioner asked José Huizar who, exactly, was allowed to remove the property of homeless people from the sidewalk. In response José Huizar said:

The police department. Not the fire department, the police department. They don’t give that right to the BIDs, unfortunately. But the LAPD can remove it if it is blocking the right of way.

What is the guy thinking? Is he thinking that the City and the BIDs haven’t been sued enough by Carol Sobel, LAFLA, and the National Lawyers Guild? There is a really good reason that only police are allowed to remove the property of homeless people, and that is because society endows sworn officers with extraordinary powers to take actions that would be and should be absolutely illegal for anyone else to do. Like kill people,3 or kidnap them,4 or take their stuff off the sidewalk, which is theft when anyone but an officer does it. This is why BID officers aren’t allowed to remove people’s property, because they’re just ordinary people and it would be stealing. Does he think it’s “unfortunate” that ordinary people can’t steal stuff? Maybe he also thinks it’s “unfortunate” that BID officers can’t kidnap and kill homeless people like the police are allowed to do.5 Bizarre.

And ironically, he’s speaking to the Fashion District, which famously was sued in Federal Court in 2015 for conspiring with the City to illegally confiscate the property of street vendors.6 The Fashion District is right next door to the Downtown Industrial District BID, also in José Huizar’s district, sued in Federal Court in 2014 for the very thing that José Huizar is lamenting the impossibility of here. The City ended up paying half a million dollars to LAFLA because the BID Patrol can’t keep its grubby hands off other people’s stuff and José Huizar thinks this is unfortunate? It’s not his money, of course, but still…

And, as usual, turn the page for transcriptions of the relevant remarks and a little more mockery!
Continue reading José Huizar Told A Bunch Of Zillionaires At The Fashion District BID Annual Meeting That It Is “Unfortunate” That BID Security Guards Are Not Allowed To Steal Homeless People’s Property — Evidently José Huizar Thinks The City Of Los Angeles Has Not Yet Paid Carol Sobel Enough Money

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Judge James Otero Issues Order Denying City Of LA’s Motion To Clarify His Preliminary Injunction Against Enforcement Of LAMC §56.11 In Skid Row

See Gale Holland’s excellent story in the Times on Mitchell v. LA as well as our other stories on the subject for the background to this post. See here to download most of the papers filed in the case.

Recall that in May 2016 the City of Los Angeles filed a motion asking Judge James Otero to clarify his preliminary injunction against enforcement of the abhorrent LAMC §56.11 within the boundaries of Skid Row. Recently plaintiffs’ attorney Carol Sobel filed a scathing opposition to the City’s motion. Otero then ruled that he could dispose of the motion without a hearing.

Earlier today he filed an order doing just that. He denied the City’s motion entirely and accused them of asking him to rule on abstractions and complex constitutional issues which had not yet come up in practice in this case. This he declined to do, rightly in my opinion, leaving the City with no option but to buckle down and follow the freaking law for once. There’s a transcription after the break.
Continue reading Judge James Otero Issues Order Denying City Of LA’s Motion To Clarify His Preliminary Injunction Against Enforcement Of LAMC §56.11 In Skid Row

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Judge Otero Rules That No Hearing Is Necessary On City Of LA’s Motion To Clarify Preliminary Injunction In Mitchell Case, Cancels Hearing Scheduled For Monday September 11

See Gale Holland’s excellent story in the Times on Mitchell v. LA as well as our other stories on the subject for the background to this post. See here to download most of the papers filed in the case.

Recall that in May 2016 the City of Los Angeles filed a motion asking Judge James Otero to clarify his preliminary injunction against enforcement of the abhorrent LAMC §56.11 within the boundaries of Skid Row. Recently plaintiffs’ attorney Carol Sobel filed a scathing opposition to the City’s motion and a hearing was set for Monday, September 11.

Well, just yesterday Judge James Otero ruled that he didn’t need a hearing in order to decide on the motion and thereby cancelled it. This was published on PACER as one of those text-only notices, no PDF associated, and you can read what there is of it after the break.
Continue reading Judge Otero Rules That No Hearing Is Necessary On City Of LA’s Motion To Clarify Preliminary Injunction In Mitchell Case, Cancels Hearing Scheduled For Monday September 11

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City of Los Angeles Files Unconvincing Response To Carol Sobel’s Opposition To City’s Motion For Clarification Of Judge Otero’s Preliminary Injunction Against Confiscation Of Homeless People’s Property In Skid Row, Basically Ask Court To Allow Them To Confiscate Incident To Arrest Even If There’s A Third Party To Take Property Cause Cops Don’t Have Time To Do The Right Thing

See Gale Holland’s excellent story in the Times on Mitchell v. LA as well as our other stories on the subject for the background to this post. See here to download most of the papers filed in the case.

Last week it came out that ongoing settlement talks in Mitchell v. City of Los Angeles had broken down, leading to the plaintiffs filing an opposition to the City’s motion for clarification of Judge Otero’s April 2016 preliminary injunction against the City. Yesterday the City filed a reply to Sobel’s opposition (PDF, transcription after the break).

The City’s argument is based on the highly dubious assertion that “Throughout all of its efforts, the City strives to balance the need of all of the City’s residents to have clean, sanitary, and accessible public areas, including sidewalks, with the needs of “the City’s large and vulnerable homeless population” and they just need clarification “…to ensure that its employees who are responsible for protecting the health, safety, and welfare of every person living or working in the Skid Row area clearly understand, and are in a position to successfully implement, the terms of the Court’s Order.”

Of course, it’s much, much more likely that the City’s goal is to harass homeless people so mercilessly that they all leave, freeing up the valuable real estate of Skid Row for the Downtown developers who hungering so fiercely for it. And I apologize that I can’t go into more detail, but, as I said, there’s a transcription after the break.
Continue reading City of Los Angeles Files Unconvincing Response To Carol Sobel’s Opposition To City’s Motion For Clarification Of Judge Otero’s Preliminary Injunction Against Confiscation Of Homeless People’s Property In Skid Row, Basically Ask Court To Allow Them To Confiscate Incident To Arrest Even If There’s A Third Party To Take Property Cause Cops Don’t Have Time To Do The Right Thing

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Discussions On City Of LA’s Motion For Clarification Of Otero’s Preliminary Injunction Forbidding Confiscation Of Homeless Property In Skid Row Finally Break Down, Leading Plaintiffs’ Attorneys To File Scathing Opposition — Hearing Set For September 11 At 10 a.m.

See Gale Holland’s excellent story in the Times on Mitchell v. LA as well as our other stories on the subject for the background to this post. See here to download most of the papers filed in the case.

It’s been over a year since anything tangible happened in Mitchell v. City of LA, which is the most recent lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles challenging the City’s abhorrent enforcement of the abhorrent LAMC 56.11 as an abhorrent justification for the illegal and immoral confiscation of the personal property of homeless people in Los Angeles. Here’s a brief timeline of what’s been going on:

  • April 2016 — Judge Otero issues a preliminary injunction severely limiting the City’s enforcement of LAMC 56.11 in Skid Row.
  • May 2016 — The City of Los Angeles asks Otero to clarify his injunction. In particular, the City wanted to know the boundaries within which the injunction applies and also how the community caretaking exception to the Fourth Amendment is to be exercised in relation to homeless people’s property.
  • Subsequently the City and the plaintiffs spent over a year trying to come to an agreement on the motion for clarification.

Well, yesterday Carol Sobel filed this opposition announcing that, while the parties were able to agree on the boundaries within which the injunction applies and some other matters, they most certainly were not able to agree on the community caretaking matter and neither were they able to agree on the City’s proposal for what constitutes a removable “bulky item.” The agreed-upon boundaries, by the way, are:

Second Street to the north, Eighth Street to the South, Alameda Street to the east and Spring Street to the west.

According to the American Bar Association Journal,

The idea behind community caretaking is that police do not always function as law enforcement officials investigating and ferreting out wrongdoing, but sometimes may act as community caretakers designed to prevent harm in emergency situations.

When they’re functioning in that role, the theory goes, they can seize cars without due process, or search houses without a warrant, and so on, as long as they’re “caring for the community” rather than investigating. Thus the community caretaking function justifies some specific exceptions to the Fourth Amendment prohibition on warrantless searches and seizures of property.

And I’m sure you can imagine just what kinds of mischief the City of Los Angeles is capable of getting up to with a tool like that. In particular they’re arguing that they ought to be able to confiscate people’s property when they’re arrested even if the arrestee has someone at the scene who can take custody of the property. The City says yes, sane people say no.

This matter is scheduled for a hearing at 10 a.m. on Monday, September 11, in Otero’s Courtroom 10C in the First Street Federal Courthouse. Anyway, turn the page for some excerpts from the filing which explain things better than I’m capable of doing.
Continue reading Discussions On City Of LA’s Motion For Clarification Of Otero’s Preliminary Injunction Forbidding Confiscation Of Homeless Property In Skid Row Finally Break Down, Leading Plaintiffs’ Attorneys To File Scathing Opposition — Hearing Set For September 11 At 10 a.m.

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