Judge Extends Order To Relocate Homeless People Living Near LA Freeways

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The federal judge, who last week ordered homeless encampments adjacent to Los Angeles freeways be immediately cleared, extended the order Friday, giving county and city officials until Sept. 1 to agree on a plan for relocation.

U.S. District Judge David O. Carter cited health and safety concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic in his May 15 order that demanded the removal and relocation of up to 7,000 people living in camps beneath and around the city’s freeway system by the following Friday.

But after city and county attorneys urged Carter to drop or delay the order, the judge indicated he would oversee the clearance in stages, starting with a June 12 status report.

“At minimum, this report shall detail a plan for establishing shelter and clearing overpasses, underpasses and ramps in each council district or supervisorial district no later than Sept. 1,” Carter wrote. “The court reserves the authority to advance the deadline of Sept. 1 in the event that the interim status reports do not demonstrate satisfactory progress towards compliance with the preliminary injunction.”

The ruling came as part of settlement talks in a lawsuit filed in March by the L.A. Alliance for Human Rights — a coalition of Skid Row-area business owners, formerly homeless and disabled city dwellers —that accused the city and county of Los Angeles of not doing enough to address the homeless problem downtown, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

And while the plaintiffs commended the judge’s order, calling it a “compassionate step to protect a significant portion of homeless persons and the community from likely harm,” local government officials said in court filings that it would interfere with complex policy matters and did not “cite authority for its extraordinary judicial action.”

More information about resources available to people experiencing homelessness in the wake of the pandemic can be found on the county’s website.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)