LOS ANGELES — The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to reverse lower court rulings that prevent Los Angeles city workers from summarily removing and destroying homeless people's property left on Skid Row sidewalks.
The high court's ruling, which came without comment on Monday, left standing an order that prevents city workers and police from disposing of belongings that homeless people leave temporarily unattended, the Los Angeles Times reported (http://lat.ms/11ZX58Q).
City Attorney Carmen Trutanich had argued that allowing homeless people to leave belongings on sidewalks creates a health hazard and violates municipal ordinances.
The suit was brought by eight homeless people who said they lost important personal documents, medications, family photos, clothing and electronics when they temporarily left their bundles unattended while they went to shower or eat in nearby shelters or attend court hearings.
Carol Sobel, attorney for the homeless plaintiffs, said the city could find no evidence of a public health crisis.
Sobel noted that the city can still clear abandoned property, or remove possessions that pose an imminent threat to public health or safety. The Central City East Assn., a nonprofit business group, since 2002 has run a storage center on skid row for homeless people to store their belongings. The city last year added 500 plastic trash bins to the center's existing 600 containers, according to the Times.
The city has lost five lawsuits over homeless property seizures since 1987.