Do L.A. County leaders have ‘compassion fatigue’ on homelessness?

Homelessness in most of the state’s big cities has soared in recent years, including in San Francisco, above. Image: Wikimedia Commons

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has drawn a line on homelessness, voting 3-2 to support a challenge to an expansive 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that forbids local governments in nine Western states from enforcing laws against camping or sleeping on sidewalks or in other public places unless overnight shelter is available.

That ruling came in September 2018. In invalidating a Boise, Idaho, law against sleeping on public lands, Judge Marsha Berzon wrote that “just as the state may not criminalize the state of being ‘homeless in public places,’ the state may not criminalize conduct that is an unavoidable consequence of being homeless — namely sitting, lying or sleeping on the streets.’” Berzon wrote for a three-judge panel.

Ted Olson, the former U.S. solicitor general who won the Bush v. Gore case before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000, is among the attorneys working with the city of Boise on an appeal. Los Angeles County will file an amicus brief in support of the appeal.

Republican Supervisor Kathryn Barger and Democrat Supervisor Janice Hahn co-sponsored the resolution to file the brief. Democratic Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, a member of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s state homelessness task force, surprised some observers by being the third vote for the resolution. Newsom, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and many big-city Democrats have endorsed policies that emphasize helping and sympathizing with the homeless. Garcetti has called homelessness “the moral and humanitarian crisis of our time.”

Supervisor: Don’t accept ’emergency’ as ‘new normal’

But Ridley-Thomas said in a statement that he was “fed up. The status quo is untenable. … We need to call this what it is — a state of emergency — and refuse to resign ourselves to a reality where people are allowed to live in places not fit for human habitation. I refuse to accept this as our new normal.” Los Angeles County has nearly 60,000 homeless people, according to official estimates, more than double the numbers seen 20 years ago.

Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Hilda Solis, both Democrats, voted no on the resolution, saying homelessness should not be criminalized. Kuehl also said she feared what a “terrible” U.S. Supreme Court might decide in its ruling.

Activists blasted Barger, Hahn and Ridley-Thomas not only for lacking compassion but for reinforcing the narrative of President Donald Trump that homelessness is out of control in coastal California.

“We can’t let Los Angeles, San Francisco and numerous other cities destroy themselves by allowing what’s happening,” Trump said last week.

The president has used Twitter to depict leaders of these cities as hapless and paralyzed in responding to declining quality of life caused by homelessness. He also dispatched Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson to visit Skid Row in Los Angeles last week and said he wanted to help California deal with its homeless problem.

But the nature of possible federal help is unclear. Trump has suggested that homeless people might be rounded up and housed on federal property or military bases, but civil-rights lawyers say the president has no authority to forcibly relocate individuals who have not committed federal crimes. 

The Associated Press reported that Carson might link federal housing grants to local governments’ efforts to make it easier to add housing by limiting regulations. That approach would parallel efforts by Newsom and lawmakers led by state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, to weaken local zoning rules that they say enable NIMBYs to block new housing.


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  1. Queeg
    Queeg 25 September, 2019, 20:21


    This is an excellent ancient history piece.

    Well researched and well written.

    Reply this comment
  2. California101
    California101 26 September, 2019, 07:26

    The 9th circuit judge should be personally responsible for her decision. She has degraded society for all so that a few could continue their addiction rides to hell. As far as these civil rights groups protecting this degrading lifestyle. is it acceptable for the civil rights of the children caught up in this? What about the many communities who see their streets and storefronts degraded by this dysfunctional lifestyle? How many have animals and what is the animals life like?Does the greater good of the whole enter Democrats minds when they force this unsavory self destructive lifestyle on the population? NO! People are not walking, they are running out of California due to this decline in society. (Seriously!) The strong survive unless your a Democrat, then you pander to the folks who make the choice to get high everyday, retire off government programs. Totally gaming a broken system with no checks and balances to ensure that it is not being gamed. This is destroying CA. Newsom’s cure is a bloated housing first program, let me clue you in, unless the addiction is treated 1st. It will be another government run colossal boondoggle. Let Gavin go in and clean up behind these addicts after they thoroughly trash his “Housing First” homes. As far as the environmental damage caused by the many Addiction/Homeless cesspool camps, that too is off the charts. Sometimes it takes a bit of tough love , not handout after handout. Personal Responsibility. Being Forthright and positively contributing to those around you. Taking care of ones own affairs, being a good steward of the environment. These are the benchmarks Democrats need to be bringing to the table folks. If I start feeding the wildlife, they eventually forget how to hunt and become dependent. That’s what the Democrats are doing to our State. Increasing Government, Taxing the working class right out of State, and enabling self destructive, rotten behavior at the people’s expense 👍

    Reply this comment
    • Ulysses Uhaul
      Ulysses Uhaul 26 September, 2019, 11:02

      Facts are facts. The Welfare State will prevail!

      Reply this comment
    • B Y Stander
      B Y Stander 26 September, 2019, 16:59

      The 9th circus has proven as usual that no low is too low to stoop as long as it further degrades the quality of life for Americans, destroys the economy, allows–no–promotes criminal behavior of corrupt government officials who appoint each other so they can further the degradation of our once proud and honest state, totally and arrogantly put themselves above accountability and treat us all like their captive servants.
      Voter Fraud? What do you think?? It’s insane to think for a moment that we all were stupid enough to vote the last crop of lunatics to the top spots in our state? I’ve had countless conversations with regular folks all over the state for years, and somehow almost nobody seems to have voted for any of these lunatics in the last 30 years–so–just how Did they get elected?
      We also voted against tax increases yet –we pay the highest taxes, have the most decrepit, crumbling, unsafe infrastructure, the most bloated unaccountable beaurocracies (DMV) ARB, EPA, BART, VTA, just to touch on a few, but they can’t even run a light rail system, provide bus service for those who can’t afford a car, run any hospital without it being equivalent to ‘one flew over the cuckoo’s nest’ where they throw very sick people out the door –(literally–I’ve witnessed it). Unelected DMV officials punish folks for liking and owning cars even tho’ true scientific studies has proven that cars contribute nothing to air pollution and never really have, and with no visible benefit, the fees go up and up and up. The so-called education system has turned into indoctrination centers where Political Correctness is First, and basic real education is almost an afterthought. High school graduates have almost no useful skills–how surprising–and then the higher centers of learning continue the insanity(but with a much higher price) so finally our proud Politically Correct degreed Graduate is qualified to say “Fries with that?” in some foreign language and little else. The misguidance doesn’t end there. Socialist Media plays an important part by subliminally brainwashing our offspring using the hidden-in-plain-sight-manipulative algorithyms so brilliantly devised by Big Tech’s hardworking codewriters. What a Brave New World California has become!
      The fortunate thing is: we still have the right of free speech–oh–and the 2nd Amendment allows us to defend ourselves against a rogue government and those who would threaten us with force or violate our rights by seizing our property. Right? ahem–Right?
      It seems we have the power to correct this whole mess–and recent expose’s have shown that the emperor truly has no clothes
      There’s lots more to come—we have every reason to celebrate.
      The times-they are a-changin’ Thank God!

      Reply this comment
  3. Standing Fast
    Standing Fast 26 September, 2019, 11:53

    Three cheers for the LA County Board of Supervisors! Maybe they will inspire other legislators to join the cause!

    I’ve had it up to here with our outlaw Governor and his band of merry Vermidons. And the rogue 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

    Reply this comment
  4. Standing Fast
    Standing Fast 26 September, 2019, 11:57

    I’ve had it up to here with our outlaw governor and his band of merry vermidons! And the rogue 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

    Three cheers for the LA County Board of Supervisors and all the other municipalities that have signed on to the lawsuit challenging the court’s ruling.

    Reply this comment
  5. michael
    michael 11 October, 2019, 06:16

    Welcome to New Venezula.

    Reply this comment

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Chris Reed

Chris Reed

Chris Reed is a regular contributor to Cal Watchdog. Reed is an editorial writer for U-T San Diego. Before joining the U-T in July 2005, he was the opinion-page columns editor and wrote the featured weekly Unspin column for The Orange County Register. Reed was on the national board of the Association of Opinion Page Editors from 2003-2005. From 2000 to 2005, Reed made more than 100 appearances as a featured news analyst on Los Angeles-area National Public Radio affiliate KPCC-FM. From 1990 to 1998, Reed was an editor, metro columnist and film critic at the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin in Ontario. Reed has a political science degree from the University of Hawaii (Hilo campus), where he edited the student newspaper, the Vulcan News, his senior year. He is on Twitter: @chrisreed99.

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