“Skid Rose” Lawsuit Filed Over Homeless Belongings In Venice Beach

From The San Francisco Chronicle

By Christina Hoag

(03-30) 16:54 PDT Los Angeles, CA (AP) —

The city of Los Angeles faces its fifth lawsuit in two decades over the seizure of homeless people’s belongings in street cleaning sweeps after recent crackdowns in the beachfront community of Venice.

Santa Monica civil rights attorney Carol Sobel filed a legal claim against the city Thursday after successfully suing the city in the last three cases over the same issue in Skid Row, the most densely populated homeless area in Los Angeles.

Sobel said she is seeking $4,000 in damages each for 11 people who lost possessions including medicine, wallets with cash, and legal and personal documents in a March 7 sweep.

“It’s just extremely disappointing that this city won’t take a different approach to poor people who don’t have a place to live,” she said.

A spokesman for the city attorney’s office did not return a phone call for comment Friday, but the city has defended its right to keep streets clean, saying bulky items on sidewalks violate local ordinances and cause blight and hazards to health and safety.

The latest case is the first contesting street cleanups outside Skid Row in another area of Los Angeles that is a hub for transients, especially young drifters.

The spate of sweeps started several months ago after the city imposed a nighttime curfew in the Venice beach area. That caused homeless people to decamp to sidewalks, and local residents to lodge numerous complaints about drug use and hygiene issues. The city has responded with a crackdown.

Homeless activist David Busch said his cart of worldly possessions, including a laptop computer, was taken in the March 7 sweep, but he managed to get the items back from a public works yard. Many people, however, were not able to retrieve their items because they did not have bus fare or could not arrange a ride to the yard, Busch said, adding that about 65 people are sleeping on the sidewalk.

The issue came to a head Thursday, he said, when about 30 homeless people and activists stood guard over belongings while sanitation workers arrived with trucks to conduct another sidewalk sweep.

“We were standing there next to every homeless person’s property,” Busch said. “We had quite a dramarama.”

After City Councilman Bill Rosendahl intervened, the sanitation trucks left, Sobel said.

Rosendahl’s office said he could not comment because of the pending litigation.

Sobel noted that although the previous cases dealt specifically with Skid Row, they are based on federal law so they apply to the entire city. She said she plans to use the new case to obtain a citywide ban on homeless property seizures so it is clear to city officials.

The city is appealing a federal judge’s ruling last year in a Skid Row case that bars sanitation workers from picking up possessions from sidewalks without notice and without telling residents where they can reclaim their property.

In many cases, mentally ill people lost their worldly goods when they left their bundles unattended while they went to shower or eat at a nearby shelter.

The first case in Los Angeles over homeless property seizures was filed in 1987, which the city also lost. Los Angeles has the largest homeless population in the nation.


Contact the reporter at http://twitter.com/ChristinaHoag.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2012/03/30/state/n165449D33.DTL#ixzz1qfK1X6Sx

Thanks to A.B. for these photos taken 10 days after the March 17th sweep.20120331-073923.jpg





  1. Yes the homeless situation is bad. So is the welfare system in general in this country. I think that alot of the problem is that fat rises to the top.

    In an article appearing in the LA Times (12/14/2011 by Anna Gorman) a state audit showed that local managed-care plans paid their top executives $230,000 to over $800,000 last year. The top social servant Howard Kahn, chief executive of LA Care, was the highest paid. This is just one example. I find it ludicrous that any social servant be paid this much. It seems to me that alot of fat needs to be skimmed from the top of our social services.

  2. CBHunzier says:

    wow im sickened by the lack of sympathy or perspective from alot fo you commenters, first off not every homeless person chose to be homeless sure there are a numbr of those too, i’ve lived here 20 years and never viewed them as a nuiscance, many of you see them as a dirty annoying dangerous waste of space but thats just ignorant, hope you never lose your home or money someday or have mental health issues, if theyve set up a campsite than fine, but if theres random stuff strewn around in the gutter like some of the above pictures then it doesn’t seem like that was stuff they intended on keeping so yeah that should be taken away, but if its intentionally being stored somewhere, than taking it away wouldn’t be right, why would you want to take away from people that don’t have anything anyway, such a waste of time jsut because you don’t wany to have to look at it

  3. Kenneth J. Harris says:

    So, the nonsense goes on. I’ve commented before on the apparent inability of the city and or police to do anything effective. While I live in New York, one of my daughters works in Venice, right in the heart of this mess. I have seen the homeless in Venice face to face when I visit her at work. They have had to upgrade the security in their parking lot and provide security for employees going to their cars. And that councilman(Bill Rosendahl I think his name is)–is he looking for the homeless vote or what? I will reiterate what I said when I last commented on this situation: perhaps it’s because of our smaller NY homeless population or perhaps it’s the different attitude of our local politicians(see above) and police, but our problems are nowhere as bad as yours.

  4. Robert Hansen says:

    I for one would like to move my worldly possessions in my cart in front of Carol Sobels house, maybe even entice some of my homeless friends as well. Maybe offer moving assistance to other homeless, so we are not harassed by the police and the city. Why when I move in front of Carol Sobels house. She will probably feed me and her gardeners, can broom up my fecal matter, so I don’t have to. Yo ho yo ho a pirates life for me… Hey anyone have an old bug filled couch you could deliver to me at my new address. Uh, what is my new address….

  5. How does a Santa Monica lawyer who charges $750hr rep the helpless. That’s right, the helpless! They don’t want a home. They don’t want help. They want to live the lifestyle they want to live at others expense. It’s bullshit! This lawsuit is bullshit! Leaving your possessions on public property is littering. There are laws and people need to abide by them. It doesn’t matter if it’s fecal matter or a laptop it’s still littering.
    This woman lawyer is wrong in taking this kind of thing on. She should be ashamed of herself! How dare she use public funds to take advantage of a bad situation. These people need help and refuse to take the help given. It’s a problem that will not be solved by a lawsuit of this sort. Again, she should be ashamed of herself! Struth!
    Send these helpless a message and send them to Santa Monica to dwell in front of her office with all of their crap!

  6. VBResident says:

    Someone should look into this Brian. I had heard that when Carol Sobel “wins” the City pays her and she bills at $750 per hour. He homeless clients sue for $4000 or some fixed amount, but she makes far more than that. Time for the Carol Sobel Homeless Shelter! Let’s go Carol, cough up some of your money and really HELP these people. Stop milking the City and build a shelter of your own.

  7. David Bush is not homeless. He lives in Santa Monica and in a HOME! Carol Sobel will file her lawsuit on behalf of Bush and settle for $20k in attorney fees. Both of them are scamming in our Venice and taking advantage of the homeless. The community needs a strong attorney to report her for ambulance chasing and file a restraining order on Bush. No city attorney is educated and experienced enough to handle Sobel. The only way out is for some one who is better than Sobel to represent us, sue the both of them and stop the fleecing of our taxes.

  8. pcfctime says:

    Carol Sobel, go figure.

  9. Venice Steeler Fan says:

    No one in Venice should have to deal with this. Until the homeless can occupy Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Palisades, Malibu, etc! Residents of Venice have the same rights as the rest of LA. Put the homeless it those neighborhoods FIRST and Venice last. When the homeless are “welcomed” everywhere then I would have no complaints but if those neighborhoods don’t have to then neither do we! Leaving the garbage on the street is plain nasty. That stuff isn’t “personal” possessions it is litter. You do not have a right to trash the neighborhood. The homeless are not part of the community and they don’t wish to be.

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