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Morning Report: City Hit With Another Homeless Class Action

A new lawsuit aims to put a stop to the city’s increasingly common practice of using a code meant to clear trash off sidewalks to force homeless people to move along.

In a new story, I shed light on plaintiffs’ contentions that encroachment citations are complicating their lives rather than helping them get off the street as well as the changes that have followed past homeless class action suits.

And as in the past, attorneys are hoping the federal class action filed on behalf of affected homeless people forces citywide policy changes.

Ten homeless plaintiffs represented by attorneys Kath Rogers and Scott Dreher, a veteran of homeless advocacy suits, are demanding the city stop applying its encroachment code — which was intended to address trash dumpsters blocking sidewalks — to homeless people and their belongings. They argue the city code is vague and results in citations, arrests and orders that they stay away from the very location where services to help them are clustered.

Police have defended their use of the code, saying the citations and arrests follow repeated warnings and offers of services and other help.

The City Council voted 8-1 on Monday to buy a rundown South Bay hotel in hopes it can serve as transitional housing for repeat misdemeanor offenders enrolled in the city’s new SMART program. City Councilman David Alvarez, who tried to postpone the Monday vote, cast the sole vote against buying the property. He previously questioned whether the city’s plans for the motel would pass muster with the state Coastal Commission and on Monday said he believed lawsuits could kill the project.

Daily Reminder: California’s Got a Housing Crisis

Developer Ginger Hitzke is one of many folks calling on state and local leaders to push forward reforms that would allow communities and developers to rapidly build more housing.

“While there is some progress from a few of our elected officials, we need a lot more,” Hitkze writes in a new op-ed.

Hitzke praises Mayor Kevin Faulconer for introducing a plan to streamline city processes and rules but argues his plan could do more to encourage less car-dependency – and thus, more density.

The New York Times zeroed in on the state’s housing affordability crisis, noting housing prices in cities including San Diego have soared as much as 75 percent the past five years.

Our pal Liam Dillon at the Los Angeles Times reports state lawmakers decided to postpone a vote on a major housing reform package on Monday in hopes of focusing on the big cap-and-trade votes. That means legislators have just one more day to take up those housing bills before they take off for the summer.

News Nibbles

All those Airbnb options for Comic-Con visitors don’t seem to be inspiring hoteliers to lower their prices. (Union-Tribune)

 County supervisors will decide Tuesday whether to supply sheriff’s deputies with body cameras. (City News Service)

• Imperial Beach joined San Mateo and Marin counties Monday in filing a suit against 37 oil, gas and coal companies that accuses them of propping up their business despite recognizing the environmental damage they were doing in the process. (San Francisco Chronicle)

 Two Hoover High summer school students were hospitalized Monday after a stabbing incident that drew dozens of spectators. (Fox 5)

 A Bay Area attorney hired to lead the city labor talks has billed the city tens of thousands of dollars in travel expenses. (Union-Tribune)

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