Judge delays decision on L.A. County’s proposal to settle a homeless lawsuit
In a court ruling, the judge decided he would not allow the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to approve a ballot measure proposed to settle a lawsuit challenging homeless ordinances in the county.
Supervisor Gloria Molina and Board President Mark Ridley-Thomas were defending the ballot measure in court in April when Judge Michael S. Schwartzman ruled that the board lacked the legal authority to file the measure or to vote for it.
The board had asked the judge to allow it to settle the lawsuit, arguing that the measure wasn’t a “substantial change” from the ordinances currently in effect. The board also asked the judge to issue an order blocking the vote from going ahead “to put this litigation before voters’ attention.”
The lawsuit was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, which says the homeless ordinances violate the U.S. Constitution and state laws governing the right to housing and human dignity.
As a result of the ruling, the ballot measure will not become law.
The board has until the end of the month to either change the ballot measure to comply with the judge’s ruling or to appeal it.
The settlement measure (the measure filed by the board in April) would ask voters to approve a proposition to add “a local option” to the county’s ordinances on how to enforce new housing rules that were proposed by Mayor Eric Garcetti.
The new rule would require the Board of Supervisors to approve the homeless ordinances or make them “a policy matter” and give supervisorial oversight to the board if that happens.
“It’s a big issue in Southern California and we feel like it’s more important to get the right policy made,” said L.A. County Deputy Public Defender Chris Harris. “The idea of moving to a local option makes complete sense.”
But not everyone in the county agrees with the move.
“The law, I think, states that the