Santa Monica attorney Carol Sobel, who lives in an area of Santa Monica unaffected by the RV and vehicle dwelling issue, is apparently gaining ground with her appeal of the RV dwellers lawsuit after the case had been dismissed. Of course you expect an attorney to shift the argument any way possible to win… but once again the quality of life and standard of living held by most communities is now marginalized and misconstrued into the “homeless vs. gentrified” fight which is a colossal misrepresentation of the real issue that has plagued Venice on this topic.
I don’t put a lot of stock in the City of LA’s ability to litigate on a lot of these issues, but what is frustrating to me is that there does not seem to be much common sense being employed around these issues at any level. ANY LEVEL. Not the attorney filing the suit, or The City defending the issue. There is no solution here. Just stripping one law until another is put in place… and how often does that happen?
There is clearly a difference between stopping and napping or resting in your car, and lodging in and living your life out of a vehicle. Anyone that bore witness to the filth, chaos, sex offenders and mental illness that was allowed to foster and fester in pools of fecal matter on 3rd and Rose knew that the the situation was out of control. It was unsolved with the “Streets to Homes” exercise in gross optimism, resulting in failure. The impact to the community was profound… and I’m sorry but this is not a humanitarian cause on behalf of Carol Sobel. Her legal fees for this type of litigation are paid, often by the City of Los Angeles when a suit is settled… so don’t be fooled. There is no outpouring of compassion or fighting for the downtrodden.
The rogue group of homeless that are attracted to Venice DO NOT want services, they do not want out of their situation and they do not want “help”. Their addiction or level of mental illness is something they want to manage themselves on the streets with no accountability to laws. They don’t want to be in a City program, they don’t want to “check in” anywhere or stay in a place where they can’t get drunk, do drugs or have their contraband. This is a group of folks that were not able to manage their lives enough such that they now live on the streets. They don’t do well in programs because they miss reporting, meetings and showing up for anything above the level that gets them free food or general relief. They are ok with being surrounded by containers of their own waste… and don’t really care if you are bothered by it.
So when a local, well-to-do developer has to remove a rogue building on an unpermitted plot of land where a pop-up retail store and garden were installed by people who have the money to do things the right way, but decided not to… guess what… they have to stop… and they did. That ended as fast as it started. If you own a plot of land, you can’t just erect a tee-pee, set up a DirecTV antenna, construct an outhouse and live the simple life. You’d never get the permits and The City would abate your property in no-time. You can’t just do what you want. Sorry, that is just the way it is in society. If you want to live in that kind of environment, expect someone more powerful, with a bigger weapon to slit your throat and that will be the end of you… so be thankful for our laws. The intent of society on the whole actually winds up serving humanity, and it is an ongoing growing process. The City has plenty of rules and laws. We don’t get the luxury of deciding which ones we want to follow and which ones we don’t. What is happening here is Sobel is representing a group of grifters. She sees a weakness in the laws that if MISREPRESENTED properly, will result in the law being overturned. No “solution”. The current law just goes away and then people can lodge in their vehicles and away we go… until another law replaces it. Carol was present when homeless media-whore David Busch was arrested for setting up a toiled with a 5 gallon bucket in a tent on 3rd Ave. Anything to maybe make a buck I guess. I haven’t seen anyone seemingly preying on that part of the community in such a way as she does. Cute relationship they have going.
Perhaps “The City” would be served here if the people that LIVE in “The City” and were impacted by the horror that went on were represented and had a voice, or were present for this. Perhaps the 9th Circuit would understand a bit better. As large and ungovernable as The City of LA is… all anyone can do is try to live a safe, pleasant, hygienic existence. In Venice apparently, that makes you a rich asshole that hates homeless people, or a “gentrifier”.
A federal appeals court on Thursday appeared to be leaning toward striking down a Los Angeles city ban on homeless people living in their cars or recreational vehicles on public streets and in parking lots.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, meeting in Pasadena, seemed to embrace arguments from civil rights attorney Carol Sobel that the criminal law was unconstitutionally vague.”It’s very hard to figure out what you’re talking about,” Judge Marsha Berzon told the lawyer for the city.
The city’s ordinance dates back to 1983, but came under fire in 2010 when a special Los Angeles police task force, responding to neighborhood complaints, began aggressive enforcement in Venice.
A group of homeless car dwellers filed suit in 2011 challenging the law. U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner dismissed the suit, and the plaintiffs appealed.
Unlike other cities, which bar sleeping in vehicles or overnight parking, Los Angeles prohibits using cars as “living quarters” both overnight and “day-by-day, or otherwise.”
Deputy City Atty. Blithe Bock told the court that police determined a vehicle was lived in by the “totality of circumstances,” including whether it appeared to be operating.
Drivers were ticketed if police found things in their car such as bottles of urine, clothing and open food that suggested it was a “living quarters,” she said.
“You’re using your car as a living space, you’re using your car as a toilet, you’re using your car as a kitchen,” Bock said.
Sobel said there were no clear standards for what property or items you could keep, or for how long you could rest in your vehicle.
“So you can’t just sit in your car and nod off?” Judge Harry Pregerson asked Bock.”He was wrapped in a blanket,” Bock responded, referring to one of the plaintiffs.
“What’s wrong with that?” Pregerson said.
Judges also questioned the rationale for the stepped-up enforcement. Bock said it came in response to a spike in crime by young transients and complaints of trash being dumped on neighbors’ property.
“People were coming home and finding refuse on their front lawn,” Bock said.
Sobel suggested that gentrification and tension between new and old residents were the real drivers of the heightened enforcement, and Pregerson seemed to agree.”Tell me if I’m wrong,” Pregerson told Bock. “You had a task force of police officers who were told their job was to clean up the Venice area of all these homeless people because people in the neighborhood didn’t like it.”
Pregerson also suggested there are better ways to handle homeless people than rousting them from their cars.
“Long Beach treats people differently,” he said. “If they find a family, they take the kids and get them in a facility and make sure they’re enrolled in school…. The next thing they do is try to find housing for them…. Why can’t the city of Los Angeles do that?”
“The situation is heartbreaking,” Bock answered. “But it is a question for legislators.”
“That’s a cop-out,” Pregerson shot back.
After the hearing, Bock said police referred car dwellers to shelters and other services that could help them get off the streets.
“Homelessness is a horrible problem, we’re all aware of that,” she said. “But we have a whole city to take care of.”
A police spokeswoman said the department is continuing to enforce the vehicle habitation ban. Outside court, some of the homeless plaintiffs and their supporters accused the city of trying to drive them out of town.
“They’re intimidating people, driving up and making a lot of noise,” said plaintiff Steve Jacobs, who lives in his SUV in Venice. “There are fewer and fewer RVs there all the time.”
The court is likely to rule on the case in the next few months.