L.A. County seeks review of homelessness ruling

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has voted to join an effort to seek reversal of a court decision that restricts efforts to bar homeless people from sleeping on sidewalks in Western states.

The board’s 3-2 vote Tuesday coincided with the start of a California fundraising visit by President Donald Trump, whose assertions about homelessness include a claim that local and state officials deliberately exacerbate the homeless problem for political gain.

The vote directs county lawyers to draft a brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a challenge to a decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals against the city of Boise, Idaho. The court ruled it is unconstitutional to arrest or otherwise sanction homeless people who sleep on sidewalks when there aren’t enough shelter beds.

The brief will support Boise’s pending request for the Supreme Court to review the case, which began in 2009.

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl voted against the motion, saying in a social media post that it would “criminalize poor people who have nowhere else to go.” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas voted in favor, saying in a statement that the situation is “a state of emergency.”

With close to 60,000 homeless people in Los Angeles County, tent encampments can be found widely, and the state’s other metropolitan areas have similar situations.

On arrival in California on Tuesday, Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One he will do “something” about homelessness but offered no specifics beyond the mention of creating a task force.

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

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Tuesday said he would welcome Trump’s help to end homelessness if he contributed federal dollars or property that could be converted into shelters.

“I know I’m just supposed to punch the president back but if he is real about it, I’ll believe it when I see it, but I’ll also trust that he wants to save some lives as well,” the mayor said. “Certainly, I do. We could do that together.”