Developers decry city move to stop seizing homeless’ possessions along Skid Row

City Council settled years-old lawsuit, but property owners say the move will discourage resi and commercial development

Mar.March 07, 2019 10:00 AM
A tent on Skid Row

The Los Angeles City Council agreed to settle a three-year-old lawsuit, effectively surrendering the city’s ability to seize without notice the possessions of people living on the streets.

Property owners and developer say the decision will discourage real estate development in Downtown L.A.’s Skid Row and will present health and safety concerns, according to the L.A. Times.

The decision comes as the wave of redevelopment in DTLA edges closer and closer to Skid Row, a decades-old haven for people living on the street. Skid Row’s 90013 ZIP code is the second fastest gentrifying zip code in the country, followed closed by neighboring 90014.

The move to settle Carl Mitchell v. Los Angeles leaves in place a 2016 injunction that prohibits city employees and law enforcement from confiscating possessions without notices. The injunction only covers blocks considered part of Skid Row. The vote was 10-2 in favor of settling the suit.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs — a group of homeless individuals and two downtown advocacy groups — argued the city’s regular cleanups arrest sweeps were meant to destroy property and clear areas of people the city didn’t want there. It was an indirect effort to open the door for economic investment and real estate development, plaintiffs argued.

Recent development projects near Skid Row include Realm Group and Urban Offerings’ 452-unit apartment project called 7th and Maple.

Meanwhile, the Council continues to struggle to find locations for temporary homeless shelters, as part of Mayor Garcetti’s “A Bridge Home” program. Residents in Venice and Koreatown came out strongly against proposed sites in their neighborhoods last year.

The city has had more success in Downtown L.A. than anywhere; two shelters have opened there, including the first in the program. [Curbed]Dennis Lynch

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