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Judge in OC encampments suit asking cities to prove anti-camping ordinance isn’t criminalizing the homeless




Orange trash bags sit outside tents and tarps of a homeless encampment along the Santa Ana riverbed bicycle path near Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California, January 25, 2018.
Orange trash bags sit outside tents and tarps of a homeless encampment along the Santa Ana riverbed bicycle path near Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California, January 25, 2018.
ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

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The U.S. District Judge hearing the suit against the cities of Anaheim, Costa Mesa, Orange and the County of Orange is asking for proof that their anti-camping policies aren’t being used to criminalize the homeless.

The suit was filed on behalf of the homeless people living in encampments along the Santa Ana river -- over 500 people that the County is attempting to clear out.

Attorneys on the suit say that people have nowhere to go. But how can these cities prove that their anti-camping policies aren’t discriminatory, if the only people who would camp along the Santa Ana River are homeless?

We discuss the legal matters and standards in the suit.

AirTalk reached out to the cities of Costa Mesa,  Anaheim, and Orange as well as the county counsel for Orange County for comment. As of the airing of this segment we had not received a response from the cities of Orange or Costa Mesa. The City of Anaheim and Leon Page, county counsel for Orange County, declined our request, but Mr. Page's office sent us this statement:

We have no comment on the merits of the litigation, but we have great respect for the Elder Law and Disability Rights Center and its talented attorneys and we look forward to discussing positive solutions that will benefit all stakeholders, including the population encamped in the Santa Ana Riverbed.

Guests:

Carol Sobel, a civil rights attorney who has represented L.A.'s homeless in federal courts; she is a co-counsel on this suit

Todd Wulffson, managing partner at Carothers DiSante & Freudenberger in Irvine, an employment and labor law firm with offices throughout California; he has served as legal counsel on behalf of several Southern California cities including Newport Beach, Anaheim, Irvine, Carson, and Palmdale