California Politicians Point Fingers as Tolerance of Homelessness Wears Thin

Many political promises have been made, many billions of taxpayer dollars have been spent and many programs have been launched, but the state’s homelessness crisis continues to worsen and Californians’ tolerance has worn thin.

A few months ago, the Public Policy Institute of California took the public’s temperature on the issue and found that overwhelming majorities of the state’s adults want something done, pronto. It’s one of the few major issues that bridges the state’s otherwise wide partisan divide.

“Things have shifted, and everybody’s jobs are on the damn line, and they should be,” Gov. Gavin Newsom told a Dreamforce conference in San Francisco last week. “We’re only interested in real results, and that’s our commitment to all of you.”

Underscoring the situation’s fraught politics, Newsom has denounced a federal magistrate who blocked San Francisco’s plans to clean up squalid encampments, pledged that the state will intervene in the case and expressed hope that a very conservative U.S. Supreme Court might lift the ban.

“That’s a hell of a statement coming from a progressive Democrat from California that says we need help from the Supreme Court,” Newsom said during his Dreamforce interview.

Newsom said that during an unannounced visit to San Francisco – a city he once governed as mayor – he saw a disgusting level of drug abuse near a city police station.

“People aren’t giving a damn that any of us are there,” he said. “They were dealing, were using, were abusing, and there was a police department substation, and it was all happening across the street. All I thought was, how damn demoralized everybody must be. There go all our tax dollars and who the hell is running this place?”

Who indeed?

The social and political angst in San Francisco over how to do something effective about homelessness is not confined to that city. There are at least 170,000 people living on the streets in California and every large city faces its version of the syndrome.

Karen Bass was elected mayor of Los Angeles on her pledge to clean up its streets but has only been able to tinker at the margins, while the numbers of the unhoused have continued to climb.

The sidewalks of Sacramento near the state Capitol are packed with encampments of homeless men and women, sparking a sharp clash between the city’s mayor, former state Senate leader Darrell Steinberg, and Sacramento County’s newly elected district attorney, Thien Ho.

For weeks, Ho issued public denunciations of city officials for, he said, failing to enforce anti-camping laws and at one point even threatened to issue criminal charges against them.

Last week, Ho filed a civil lawsuit against the city, alleging its inaction is creating a public nuisance. A companion suit was filed by a coalition of city residents and business owners.

“Enough is enough,” Ho told The Sacramento Bee. “We need to address this public safety crisis for both the housed and the unhoused.”

The 36-page lawsuit describes Sacramento as a once-thriving city that faces “descent into decay and this utter collapse into chaos,” threatening both housed and unhoused residents.

“The frustration that members of our community feel is absolutely justified,” Steinberg said in a statement, defending steps the city has taken to deal with the issue, and criticizing Ho’s intervention.

Click here to read the full article in CalMatters

Legal Fights Over California’s Homeless Camps Expand to Supreme Court

The California State Association of Counties and League of California Cities told justices that a string of federal court rulings over the last five years have made addressing health and safety concerns “unworkable.”

Fed up with homeless encampments, California local officials are seeking guidance from the nation’s most powerful judges.

In a legal brief filed Tuesday with the U.S. Supreme Court, the California State Association of Counties and League of California Cities told the justices that a string of federal court rulings over the last five years that restrict cities’ abilities to sweep camps and order residents off the streets have made addressing health and safety concerns “unworkable.”

“The State of California and its cities and counties are engaged in unprecedented efforts to address homelessness through the creation of significant new policy initiatives and funding investments,” the league and association wrote. “However, camping ordinances can be a useful tool in appropriate circumstances in addressing the complex conditions that exist in our homeless populations.”

California cities made a similar appeal in 2019, but the court declined to hear that case.

It all stems from a landmark 2018 decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in an Idaho case that was binding on California local governments. Judges then decided that it’s unconstitutional to criminally penalize people camping in public when they lack “access to adequate temporary shelter.”

On Wednesday, more California officials weighed in. The state’s sheriff’s association and police chiefs association, as well as a group of Orange County cities, filed their own brief arguing the Idaho ruling “may have expanded the rights of those suffering from homelessness [while] the rights of business owners, taxpayers, children and other housed citizens to clean, safe, drug-free streets and public areas have been completely ignored.”

Sacramento County District Attorney Thien Ho filed his own brief, too. And San Diego, which recently began enforcing a sweeping new camping ban, will sign on to a brief being circulated by the city of Seattle, a spokesperson for Mayor Todd Gloria said.

Will Knight, decriminalization director at the National Homelessness Law Center, previously told CalMatters he doesn’t think the Supreme Court will take up the case, given that the question has not come up prominently in federal courts in other parts of the country. Knight criticized cities for trying to get around the technical boundaries of the Idaho ruling and said they should focus instead on expanding individualized housing options for residents.

Meanwhile, political pressure is mounting on cities to more strictly enforce their camping ban. Democratic big-city mayors and Gov. Gavin Newsom have blasted federal judges for rulings that halt encampment sweets.

On Tuesday, Ho sued the city of Sacramento, accusing it of inadequately enforcing a number of recent camping bans such as those near schools and of ignoring residents’ requests to safety issues at camps.

Click here to read the full article in OC Register

Sacramento Prosecutor Sues California’s Capital City Over Failure to Clean Up Homeless Encampments

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Sacramento’s top prosecutor is suing the city’s leaders over failure to cleanup homeless encampments, escalating a monthslong dispute with leaders in California’s capital city.

County District Attorney Thien Ho announced the lawsuit Tuesday during a news conference in Sacramento, saying the city is seeing a “collapse into chaos” that he said reflects the “erosion of everyday life.” A group of residents and business owners also filed a companion lawsuit against the city.

Ho said his office had asked the city to enforce local laws around sidewalk obstruction and to create additional professionally operated camping sites, but that the city did not.

The lawsuit includes accounts from dozens of city residents living around 14 encampments. Some homeowners recounted being threatened with firearms at their front door and having their properties broken into and vandalized — which has driven some from their homes. Local business owners said they have spent thousands of dollars to upgrade their security systems after their workers were assaulted by homeless people, while calls to city officials seeking help have gone unanswered, the lawsuit said.

“This is a model for the people to stand up and hold their government accountable,” Ho said in an interview Tuesday. “All I’m asking is the city do its job.”

Sacramento County had nearly 9,300 homeless people in 2022, based on data from the annual Point in Time count. That was up 67% from 2019. Roughly three-quarters of the county’s homeless population is unsheltered, and the majority of that group are living on Sacramento streets.

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg said Ho was politicizing the issue. The city has added 1,200 emergency shelter beds, passed ordinances to protect sidewalks and schools and has created more affordable housing, Steinberg said in a statement.

The city is trying to avoid “the futile trap of just moving people endlessly from one block to the next,” Steinberg said. People’s frustrations are “absolutely justified” but Ho’s actions are a “performative distraction,” he said.

“The city needs real partnership from the region’s leaders, not politics and lawsuits,” he said.

Homeless tent encampments have grown visibly in cities across the U.S. but especially in California, which is home to nearly one-third of unhoused people in the country.

Ho had threatened in August to file charges against city officials if they didn’t implement changes within 30 days. In a letter to the city, Ho demanded that Sacramento implement a daytime camping ban where homeless people have to put their belongings in storage between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m., among other rules.

City Attorney Susana Alcala Wood’s office has also repeatedly urged Ho to work with the city to address the issue, she said.

“It sadly appears the DA would rather point fingers and cast blame than partner to achieve meaningful solutions for our community,” Alcala Wood said in a statement.

Ho, elected in 2022 after vowing on the campaign trail to address the city’s homelessness crisis, said he’s asked the city to share real-time data about available shelter beds with law enforcement. He anticipates the lawsuit will go to trial and hopes a jury will agree with what he has proposed.

“This is a rare opportunity — a rare opportunity — for us to effectuate meaningful, efficient means of getting the critically, chronically unhoused off the streets,” Ho said.

Ho said he supports a variety of solutions including enforcing laws and establishing new programs to provide services to people facing addiction or mental health issues. He said he supports a statewide bond measure that would go toward building more treatment facilities. Voters will weigh in on that measure next year. He also backs the proposed changes in the state’s conservatorship system that would make it easier for authorities to mandate treatment for those with alcohol and drug use disorders.

The dispute between the district attorney and the city was further complicated by a lawsuit filed by a homeless advocacy group earlier this year that resulted in an order from a federal judge temporarily banning the city from clearing homeless encampments during extreme heat. That order is now lifted but the group wants to see it extended.

The attorney for the homeless coalition also filed a complaint with the state bar this month, saying Ho abused his power by pushing the city to clear encampments when the order was in place.

Ho’s news conference included testimony from residents who say the city is not providing resources to deal with homelessness. Emily Webb said people living an encampment near her home have trespassed on her property, blocked her driveway and threatened her family, but city officials have done little to clear the camp.

“We’re losing sleep and exhausted from this stress,” she said Tuesday. “We are beyond frustrated and no longer feel comfortable or safe in our home.”

Click here to read the full article in AP News

Hotel Guests are Caught In Middle

Morning drumming, disrupted nuptials, violence — it’s no vacation for L.A. visitors during strike.

Children shrieked and splashed in the water, and a couple on an anniversary staycation floated at the edge of the hotel pool, nursing their blended beverages.

Alea Britain had checked into Hotel Maya the night before and was planning to spend the day jet-skiing with friends. Nothing appeared out of the ordinary since Britain had arrived at the waterfront Hilton property overlooking the Long Beach skyline.

“I had no idea there was a strike,” she said. “I haven’t noticed anything.”

But a few hours later that Friday, it was unmistakable — drums, megaphones, striking workers marching to demand higher wages and better working conditions.

“Our fight is to keep a roof over our heads,” shouted union leader Ada Briceño during the Aug. 11 protest, speaking for the 15,000 hotel employees striking for a new contract. “We are, right now, one paycheck away from homelessness. We are, right now, living in our cars.”

More than six weeks since the rolling strikes began, this had become the defining tableau of L.A.’s summer of labor — workers chanting in red T-shirts as guests, some appearing perplexed, others a bit sheepish, lug their suitcases past them and into the lobby.

The writers’ and actors’ strikes will take a while to reach consumers still enthralled by “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer,” blockbusters finished before the twin work stoppages in Hollywood. But the series of hotel walkouts, which began during the busy weekend before the Fourth of July, hit travelers right away.

This summer, tourists visiting Disneyland,the Anime Expo and the L.A. leg of Taylor Swift’s Eras tour have often been greeted outside their hotels by picketing workers represented by Unite Here Local 11. But because the strikes have happened in waves, targeting hotels in different regions on different days, some tourists, even those who see themselves as ardently pro-union, haven’t always known quite how to respond.

The union sent out a news release last week asking people to boycott three hotels where violence had flared against strikers, including Hotel Maya, where a picketer was recently punched in the head during a chaotic altercation at a wedding. But before that, the union had adopted a distinctly quieter stance, merely listing the hotels without contracts on its website and asking that people “not patronize” them.

Although some Southern California hotel customers did change their plans, others — especially those visiting from out of town — said they either didn’t know about the strike or had booked nonrefundable stays ahead of time. In online reviews for the hotels targeted for strikes, several guests vented frustrations with both hotel management and picketing employees in the contract dispute.

“If you want to have a peaceful vacation choose another location,” wrote a tourist who stayed at 1 Hotel West Hollywood in August.

“Pay your workers!” wrote another, who left a two-star review for the Holiday Inn Los Angeles LAX Airport, noting that protesters showed up around 5 a.m. “I know that workers don’t want to do this and don’t want to disturb guests, but they’re left no choice.”

Another visitor, who stayed at the hotel while in town to see Swift, criticized what she called “abrupt behavior” from the strikers and complimented the hotel for blaring Swift’s music to drown out their chants.

“This is awesome customer service,” she wrote. (The hotel responded: “We truly appreciate your wonderful comments!”)


Emma Eblen was on her couch recovering from COVID-19 and scrolling through email when she spotted a subject line that said “Congrats!”

When she was finally convinced it wasn’t a scam, the 30-year-old began to shake with excitement and dialed her friend with the news: She’d won a pair of tickets to see Swift in L.A. through a giveaway hosted by Capital One. They immediately searched for hotels and chose the Los Angeles Airport Marriott because a chartered bus could pick them up there and take them to the stadium.

It was a bit odd that the hotel reservation was nonrefundable, she recalled thinking at the time, but for two nights at around $800, the friends decided it was their best bet. It wasn’t until a week before the trip, while searching a Facebook group for concertgoers, that the Olympia, Wash., resident learned of the strike.

“Oh, my God,” Eblen thought, her mind immediately jumping to her parents, both members of a theater union. “Crossing a picket is one of the worse things I could ever think of.”

But there were almost no options left on Airbnb, and she knew she couldn’t afford to eat the cost of the nonrefundable reservation. Winning the tickets had felt like a dream — she couldn’t stop thinking about her 15-year-old self crying along to “Teardrops on My Guitar” on the radio years earlier — but now she felt sick with guilt at even the thought of crossing a picket line.

In the end, it never came to that; although other hotels in the Marriott chain were picketed, hers was not. Still, she said, she’d been awakened by 6 a.m. chants from picketers at a hotel across the street.

As part of its strategy, the union has targeted events expected to draw thousands to the region, including the annual meeting of the American Political Science Assn., and Swift herself.

In a plea to the pop icon, whose out-of-town fans boost hotel prices in the cities she visits, the union borrowed the name of one of her albums. “Speak Now!” their letter reads, “stand with hotel workers and postpone your concerts.”

A few days after releasing the public letter to Swift, whose six sold-out concerts went on as planned, the union again drew headlines, filing a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board highlighting what it called a pattern of violent incidents and property destruction at picket lines. It specifically listed the three hotels it has now asked people to boycott — Hotel Maya, Fairmont Miramar in Santa Monica and Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort & Spa in Dana Point.

In late July at the Dana Point hotel, Maria Hernandez, who works as an assistant server at the hotel’s Knife Modern Steak restaurant, said she spotted celebrity chef John Tesar, who runs the restaurant, walking toward the picket line. She began recording on her cellphone as he walked toward her and flipped her off.

“Take your union, and shove it up your,” he says, punctuating his delivery with an expletive and then hurling an insult at her in Spanish. “You’re a bad person. You’re a lazy pendeja.”

After that, Hernandez said, he snatched a drumstick out of her hands. She told him she knew who he was and that what he was doing wasn’t right, she said, and he then told her that he would recognize her when she came back to work.

“I was afraid,” she said, “that I would get into trouble or get fired.”

In an interview, Tesar said that while staying at the hotel during a vacation with his three children — 12, 5 and 2 — protesters had jeered at, filmed and made hand gestures toward him and his children, calling him a “terrible person.” In the days since then, he said, he’s received several death threats and been called a racist.

The former “Top Chef” contestant acknowledged that, after a protester flipped him off on the last morning of his stay, he used a metal spoon to break the picketer’s drum.

“I was protecting my children,” he said. “I’m anything but a racist. … I’m a New Yorker, I’m sorry, I speak in profanities. I’m a chef. We curse in the kitchen. I apologize if it offended anybody.”

After Maisha Hudson and Shawn Parker got engaged, the bride-to-be reached out to a wedding planner she knew from her college sorority, who sent over a list of potential venues.

Intent on a waterfront view, the Inglewood couple picked Hotel Maya, and in January, six months before the strike began, the couple signed a contract and put down a deposit to reserve their August date, according to interviews with Maisha Hudson-Parker, as she’s now known, and her wedding planner, Deborah Croom.

It wasn’t until Aug. 1, four days before her ceremony, the bride said, that she learned from the hotel that there might be strikers there on the day of her wedding. With friends and relatives flying in from across the country, shifting to a different location on short notice felt impossible — friends had scrambled to move a wedding in 72 hours last year, she said, and ended up paying $70,000.

Hotel managers apologized for the inconvenience, Hudson-Parker said, but assured her she wouldn’t be able to hear anything because the picketers often gathered in the front of the hotel, not at the back of the property near the water, where the ceremony would take place.

Not long after sunrise on her wedding day, she woke to the sound of bullhorns, and the hotel offered to move the ceremony into an indoor ballroom. But it would have been a tight squeeze for her 226 guests, the bride said, and she’d picked the venue specifically for the outdoor view of the water.

Instead, the hotel put up mobile metal fencing to block the outdoor ceremony area from a publicly accessible pathway along the shoreline. Before the ceremony, the bride said, a few of her guests asked the striking workers if they’d mind pausing their picket for 30 minutes so the couple could exchange vows in quiet. They refused, she said, leaving her and many of her guests — among them union members and supporters — in an unenviable position.

The bride said she’d donated water bottles during the Los Angeles teachers’ strike and had friends in the writers’ strike. Croom said she spent much of the day thinking of her parents, who were union members — her mother a teacher, her father working in the shipyards — and heard their voices in her head: “You should never cross the picket line.” But by the time they learned the venue was one of the locations to be picketed, both women said, payments had already been finalized and guests were preparing to fly out.

On the afternoon of the ceremony, as guests mingled in the outdoor plaza decorated with bouquets of burnt orange and crimson flowers, smooth music crooning from the speakers competed with the sound of drums and picketers chanting, “Hotel Maya, escucha, estamos en la lucha.” (Hotel Maya, listen, we are in the fight.)

Frustrated, wedding guests began to record videos of the picketers gathered on the other side of the fencing. “They’re trying to mess up her wedding,” one guest says in a recording shared with The Times.

Another clip shows a moment of commotion, as the mobile fencing gets hoisted into the air and people rush toward it from both sides. On the other side of the fence, a man in a black shirt — described by the union in a tweet as a hotel guest — runs up to a picketer and pummels him on the side of the head.

Carlos Cheverri Canalés, the worker who was punched, said in an interview that he thinks he lost consciousness briefly because the next thing he remembered was waking up to shouts. Recently hired as a line cook in the hotel’s lounge, he said, he didn’t yet have health insurance and was worried about medical bills.

“I was punched in the head,” he said, “for trying to have a voice.”

Another worker on the picket line that day, David Ventura, said he saw security guards, at the direction of a nearby manager, abruptly lift the chain link fencing, ramming it toward the workers. Worried that people might get knocked over, the bellman said, he rushed forward to help his co-workers.

“I was trying to take care of my people,” he said. “It would behoove the owners to do right by us at the bargaining table.”

In a statement, the Long Beach Police Department — whose officers arrived at the scene and eventually escorted the bride, in her flowing, ivory-colored gown, into the ceremony area — said four demonstrators were injured by a man who also destroyed a speaker. Police said the suspect, whom the bride said she didn’t know, fled before police arrived.

At one point, the bride said, she had tears in her eyes and asked a protester to please respect her wedding. “He yelled at me,” Hudson-Parker said, “and told me I should have known this was coming.”

The ceremony started an hour and a half late, which squeezed the timeline for photos and cost her the time to dance with some of her elderly guests who left once it got dark.

The hotel has apologized, Hudson-Parker said, acknowledging it wasn’t properly prepared. The hotel’s director of human resources did not respond to requests for comment, and two other executives declined to comment. In an email about the incident to elected officials, Heather Rozman, president of the Hotel Assn. of Los Angeles, wrote that “guests had to be protected by both hotel security and Long Beach Police because of threats leading up to the wedding ceremony.”

Asked about the incident, a union spokesperson contended that workers were fully within their rights to protest by the wedding and that guests frustrated or inconvenienced by the strike should focus their blame on management.

“It’s the hotel’s responsibility,” spokesperson Maria Hernandez said.

During the protest at the hotel almost a week later, picketers unfurled a bold red banner reading “Boycott.”

As the workers marched in circles, volunteers from the National Lawyers Guild’s legal observers program, called as a precaution by the union after the wedding altercation, meandered through the crowd with notebooks. Off to the side, several hotel managers and executives watched.

Jesus Grimaldo, 79, who has worked at Hotel Maya for nearly four decades, addressed the crowd in Spanish. His health is failing — he’s a cancer survivor twice over and recently had a heart attack — but he can’t afford to retire, he said, because his $20-an-hour wage is too low. He supports his wife, as well as his daughter and grandchild, who live with them.

“What we are asking for,” he said, “is fair and just.”

A few guests observed from the lobby.

One of them, Christopher Ricci, who was in town for a convention put on by Kawai Pianos, owns a small piano store in Rhode Island. The brief boost in profits sparked by people’s COVID-19 lockdown-era hobbies had long ago disappeared, he said, and business was again on the decline.

“I feel empathy for them,” he said of the striking workers. “The way things are with inflation, you’ve got to try to pay people what they deserve.”

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

California Spends Billions on Homelessness, but Political Squabbling Undermines Efforts

Since Gavin Newsom began his governorship more than four years ago, the state has spent upwards of $20 billion on efforts to solve – or at least reduce – California’s worst-in-the-nation homelessness crisis.

The spending continues, but the number of people living on the streets, in squalid camps or in ramshackle motorhomes and trailers continues to climb.

That sad fact was underscored recently by a new census of homelessness in Los Angeles County, which has a quarter of the state’s population but nearly half of its homeless people. The study found a 9% rise in the number of homeless people in the county to 75,518, with more than half (46,260) in the city of Los Angeles.

“The homeless count results tell us what we already know – that we have a crisis on our streets, and it’s getting worse,” said Dr. Va Lecia Adams Kellum, CEO of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, which conducted the count.

The census not only depicts a worsening problem, but illustrates the difficulty Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass faces as she attempts to make good on her campaign pledge to get people off the city’s streets.

California’s failure, at least so far, to get a handle on its homelessness crisis has made it a target of scornful national and international media attention and a model of what to avoid for other states.

The major underlying cause for the crisis is a lack of housing that’s affordable to Californians on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder, exacerbated, among many, by alcohol and drug addictions and mental illnesses.

Those factors indicate that if California is to gain the upper hand on the crisis it must work on all causes simultaneously and somehow forge coordination among the alphabet soup of federal, state and local agencies which own slices of the overall problem and often squabble among themselves.

The most obvious of those squabbles has been the running feud between Newsom and local government officials. He accuses the locals of being insufficiently vigorous in implementing programs while they say they need permanent sources of financing rather than the year-to-year appropriations Newsom has offered.

While the homelessness crisis is most evident, or visually jarring, in the state’s major cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, it also afflicts the downtowns of smaller cities and ironically, the area surrounding the state Capitol in downtown Sacramento is a case in point.

A few years ago, the construction of a new basketball arena and the opening of an expanded convention center, plus new hotels, apartment houses and restaurants, indicated that downtown Sacramento had finally arrested its decay.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic was a heavy blow to the region, particularly since tens of thousands of state employees were told to work from home, followed by violent demonstrations in the summer that damaged downtown businesses. As downtown Sacramento was hollowed out, encampments proliferated.

City officials such as Mayor Darrell Steinberg – whom Newsom tapped as a major advisor on homelessness policy – have feuded with their counterparts in county government over who should bear responsibility for anti-homelessness programs.

The newly elected Sacramento County district attorney, Thien Ho, accused city officials of refusing to enforce their own ordinances banning sidewalk encampments and threatened criminal charges to force them to act.

Steinberg and members of the city council, meanwhile, could not agree on where to site approved camping grounds that could persuade street-dwellers to move, finally handing the job of picking sites to their city manager.

Click here to read the full article in CalMatters

Sacramento Barred From Clearing Homeless Camps Until at Least Sept. 1 due to Heat, Judge Rules

A federal judge has extended an order barring the city of Sacramento from clearing homeless encampments, due to extreme heat.

The city cannot clear camps until at least Sept. 1, Judge Troy L. Nunley said in a ruling Wednesday. Previously the order was set to expire Thursday.

Under the order, first issued Aug. 3 as the result of a Sacramento Homeless Union lawsuit, the city can still enforce its ordinance that bans camps from fully blocking sidewalks.

“To the extent possible, unhoused individuals should be given an opportunity to comply with the sidewalk ordinance at their given location,” the order stated.

District Attorney Thien Ho last week criticized the city for not citing homeless people who block the sidewalks, as its ordinance allows it to do. He has threatened criminal and civil action against city officials.

Mayor Steinberg has accused Ho of politicizing the issue of homelessness and pointed out that homeless people typically lack the ability to pay fines. Instead of issuing citations, when residents complain of blocked sidewalks, city employees routinely respond to the scene and tell them to move their items to make room for a four-foot walkway.

Nunley’s order also allows the city to clear camps that are within 500 feet of a school, and to pick up trash from camps, as long as it does not remove personal survival items.

It also requires the city to let the Sacramento Homeless Union to tour its Miller Park Safe Ground, a sanctioned encampment.

The union has raised concerns that the Safe Ground is too hot because the tents are located in the sun. The city has agreed to provide structures over tents in areas without shade, and alternative tents, such as those made of canvas, to provide better protection from the heat, the order stated.

Also Wednesday, Nunley ruled that the city must submit a court filing explaining why it should not be held in contempt of court and sanctioned for violating the order earlier this month.

The city on Aug. 4 and Aug. 7 cleared homeless people from outside City Hall, in violation of the order. The city told its police not to clear camps, but was “not effective,” in telling a contractor that handles City Hall, a spokesman said at the time.

The city has until Aug. 23 to submit the filing.

Click here to read the full article from the Sacramento Bee via Yahoo

LA Hotel Owners Forced to Rent to Homeless Instead of Tourists

Officials say that hotel owners are breaking city law

The Los Angeles Housing Department announced this week that 17 owners of residential hotels in the city have received warnings over letting out rooms to tourists, highlighting that they are breaking city law if the rooms aren’t being rented out to city residents instead.

In total, 21 residential hotels, which are single rooms and used as a means of affordable housing, were cited as breaking the law. According to the city, the owners are specifically breaking the 2008 Residential Hotel ordinance, which specifically established a moratorium on the demolition or conversion of residential hotel units to any other use, including hotels. Its ultimate aim was to keep in place as many low-cost rentals as possible to keep housing available for lower-income, elderly, and disabled citizens in LA.

However, hotel owners, between the ordinance, Project Roomkey, and more recent initiatives by Mayor Karen Bass to increase motel and hotel housing for the homeless, have felt squeezed in choosing what to do with their own property. Many renters are behind on payments, with owners finding it hard to collect payment or evict residents due to several state and city laws. Some have found loopholes over renter violations and safety concerns, while others have simply let out rooms to tourists or set up Airbnbs to help bridge the gaps in payments and between renters. Still others have simply sold their property, putting all renters residing there into jeopardy as a result.

A crackdown this month, initially asked by Mayor Bass, on the hotel owners led to warnings being issued over tourists getting rooms over long-term low-income renters.

“So many are behind on rent,” said Anjali Singth, a motel co-owner in Los Angeles, to the Globe on Friday. “The COVID laws delayed payments for years. What can we do? Renting rooms against the ordinance is a way to stay in business, but now the city is denying us that.”

The Los Angeles City Council is also due to take action, with a motion to be considered soon that will have the Housing Department report on their enforcement of the residential hotel law. The Department will also soon say how enforcement methods of the ordinance can be improved.

The LA residential hotel ordinance

“I know very dramatically the impact of not having that enforced because that means more houses, more low-income units, that we as a city have to figure out how to build,” explained motion author and City Councilmember Bob Blumenfield. “It means more people on the street and more services and more costs and more human suffering. The loss of residential hotel rooms to tourist units may be exacerbating our homelessness crisis.”

“Nobody’s ever come to me and said, ‘We don’t have the money to enforce our residential hotel conversion law’. Now that I’m aware of it, I’m going to do what I can to make sure that it does get enforced.”

However, hotel owners are fighting back against the ordinance. Many are saying that they are a ‘hotel first’ and have hired lawyers to challenge the city ordinance. Others that were given warnings conversely sent in proof that they haven’t had hotel guests for years, only residents.

Click here to read the full article in California Globe

Alaska Mayor Wants to Give Homeless One-Way Ticket to Los Angeles, Other Warmer Climates

An unfunded proposal by Anchorage’s mayor to pay for plane tickets to warmer climates for homeless people who would otherwise be forced to winter outside in the bitter cold has caused a stir in Alaska’s biggest city.

Last year, eight people — a record for the city — died of exposure in Anchorage and the closure of a large arena earlier this year that served as a makeshift city shelter is sure to exacerbate the crisis in a place where winter temperatures regularly dip below zero.

“When people approach us and want to go to someplace warm or they want to go to some town where they have family or friends that can take care of them, if they choose to go there, we’ll support that,” Mayor Dave Bronson said at a Tuesday news conference.

SUGGESTED: Hollywood residents furious as homeless camps ‘engulf’ streets near charter school, Walk of Fame

If the program moves forward, people can choose to relocate to the Lower 48 or somewhere else in Alaska where it might be warmer or where they have relatives.

With the pandemic, officials configured the roughly 6,000-seat Sullivan Arena to be a mass-care facility. It has served more than 500 homeless people in the winters until city officials decided to return it to its original purpose hosting concerts and hockey games.

While some smaller shelters have opened, there is no large care facility in the city and homeless services are limited. Nine other smaller shelters provide 614 beds for the homeless. Bronson’s sudden proclamation comes at a time of political tension over the homelessness crisis between the Republican mayor and the liberal-leaning Anchorage Assembly.

Bronson in 2021 had proposed building a shelter and navigation center on the city’s east side, but the Anchorage Assembly whittled the capacity to only 150 beds. Construction was then put on hold when the Bronson administration awarded the contract without approval from the Assembly, which is scheduled to decide next month if it will proceed.

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The lack of shelter space this winter could leave an estimated 750 unhoused residents in the cold.

“I have a moral imperative here, and that’s to save lives,” Bronson said. “And if that means giving them a few hundred dollars for an airline ticket to go where they want to go, I’m going to do that.”

Anchorage Assembly Chair Christopher Constant did not immediately return a email from The Associated Press on Tuesday. However, he told the Anchorage Daily News there have been no formal discussions with the Bronson administration to fund the relocation program.

“A good portion of our individuals experiencing homelessness are Alaska’s first people. This is their place. There is no other place,” he said.

Bronson said a funding source has not been identified, and he’s put Alexis Johnson, the city’s homeless director, in charge of coming up with a plan for the program. She didn’t immediately return an email seeking comment. Bronson said it won’t be difficult to administer the program.

“Someone says, ‘I want to go to Los Angeles or San Diego or Seattle or Kansas,’ it’s not our business,” he said of their intended destination. “My job is to make sure they don’t die on Anchorage streets.”

A one-way ticket to Los Angeles cost $289 on Tuesday, which Bronson said was much cheaper than the $100 or so it costs to house someone every day.

When asked if he was simply pushing Anchorage’s problems onto someone else, Bronson said Alaska’s largest city has 40% of the state’s population but 65% of the homeless population.

Click here to read the full article on Fox11

Iconic Venice Beach Boardwalk Continues to be Occupied By Homeless Groups During Spiraling Crisis

Authorities in California have ceded prime real estate on the Venice Beach boardwalk to a rotating cast of vagrants — a microcosm of the insanity plaguing the Golden State amid its spiraling homeless crisis.

For weeks, a vagrant surrounded himself beneath a pagoda along with boardwalk with a dump of grimy grocery carts, tarps and blankets, galling footage posted online showed. He and a friend reportedly rejected aid from police, city workers and LA County Park Rangers — who threw up their hands and let the beachfront takeover persist.

As online outrage grew, Los Angeles cops finally cleared the beach bum this week, only to have a different hobo immediately take over the spot — and all but shut-out taxpaying residents or tourists from enjoying it.

“It’s like they are babysitting [the homeless population],” Reza Karimi, 60, owner of the sunglasses store Good See Co., and whose prime location on the boardwalk is just steps away from the hobo-filled pagodas, told The Post.

“Here I pay taxes, I work every day, but these people are given money for free and yet they still do whatever they want and ruin the city.”

Scott Beers, who took over the primo real estate with his girlfriend, promised to keep it cleaner than the previous “tenant.”

“He had tents up and trashed this whole area up. You can’t have that here,” said Beers, 57.

“I’ve had homes before so I get it,” said Beers, who keeps his belongings neatly stacked on an airport luggage cart. “These people pay millions of dollars to live by the beach and they don’t want to see that s–t all over the place.” 

Beers, who claims to have abandoned a 28-acre cattle ranch and dairy farm in Nevada for life on the streets following his wife’s death, sang the praises of the free services available in the beachside community.

“Venice is my favorite because you can get hot showers every day. You can go out to the food bank three days a week. There is a church nearby that gives you a hot meal. And you can’t beat the views!” he said, noting that he gets by with panhandling and $221 a month from “general relief” funds from the Welfare Office. 

Locals ripped the game of beach bum whack-a-mole.

“People [who have been previously removed] have come back and sleep out on the beach and the boardwalk,” said Jessica, whose family has run a business on the boardwalk for decades. 

“The tourists do get scared. They see people screaming or acting out near the shop and they turn around and don’t want to come back.”

California has 171,000 homeless people, representing 30% of the nation’s entire homeless population, according to a June report by the University of California, San Francisco. 

Click here to read the full article in the NY Post

SLO County Approves Spending $13.4 Million To Help 200 People Find Housing

San Luis Obispo County detailed plans to spend $13.4 million dollars in state grant funding to help reduce encampments in a flood and fire danger zone near the segment of the Bob Jones Bike Trail parallel to South Higuera Street in San Luis Obispo. The Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 on Tuesday to award the funds to the City of San Luis Obispo.

Last month, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced plans to provide SLO County with $13.4 million “to serve 200 people from an encampment in a flood and fire danger zone.” The goal is to move the people out of the encampment and into housing.

SLO County plans to work with four key partners to launch a multi-phase project which will include construction and operation of 34 interim shelter beds and 46 supportive housing beds.

Project Partners:

• City of San Luis Obispo – Provide coordination and leadership for targeted outreach to encampment residents, including support from the Fire Department’s Mobile Crisis Unit and Law Enforcement’s Community Action Team.
• DignityMoves – A San Francisco- based developer that specializes in addressing unsheltered homelessness using rapid-build housing solutions and will lead the development of the DSS South Higuera Lot using modular construction.
• Good Samaritan Shelter – A Santa Maria-based organization with more than 25 years experience, will assist with street outreach and housing navigation to encampment residents and provide day-to-day operations and case management services for the Welcome Home Village.

Click here to read the full article