Patt Morrison for April 3, 2012

Civil rights attorney files damage claims after city throws away homeless’ possessions

A homeless man (front) with his dog stop

ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

A homeless man with his dog stops at a trash bin to search for recyclable cans as beach-goers head home for the day at Venice Beach in Los Angeles, California, 28 August 2003.

The Los Angeles City Bureau of Sanitation made living on the streets of Venice a little more difficult last month after it commissioned a street cleanup in the area that included hauling away possessions owned by the homeless.

Civil rights attorney Carol Sobel has filed damage claims against Los Angeles for the March 7 cleanup on 3rd Avenue where city trash collectors removed items belonging to street dwellers including laptops, clothes, and other personal belongings. L.A. City Councilman Bill Rosendahl said the cleanup occurred following many complaints about public urination, defecation, blocked sideways and trash in the street.

A few homeless who lost belongings were able to rummage through heaps of garbage in the city sanitation yard to reclaim their possessions the day after the cleanup, but others couldn’t make the trip and lost money, medication, and legal papers, according to reports. Rosendahl said he would make it a policy to give the homeless a courtesy notice before future cleanups, but also indicated that 3rd Avenue would continue to be cleaned up on a weekly basis.

WEIGH IN:

Do people living on the street have the right to keep personal belongings on public property? How do you think the Department of Public Works handled the situation? Is this a case of the city trying to sweep homeless issues under the rug?

Guests:

Bill Rosendahl, Los Angeles City Councilman (Representing Council District 11, includes Brentwood, Pacific Palisades and Venice)

Deon Joseph, Senior Lead Officer for the Skid Row area, Los Angeles Police Department

Jeremy Rosen, policy director, the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty

Donna Lasman, Executive Director of the Venice Chamber of Commerce


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