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Homeless vs. the City of San Diego lawsuit placed on hold, pending talks

(SAN DIEGO) The lawsuit filed in federal court by the ACLU and the Dreher Law Firm last week on behalf of a number of San Diego homeless individuals has been placed on hold, according to a press release from the City Attorney’s office. Additionally, the request for a Temporary Restraining Order has been withdrawn, enabling informal discussions to resolve issues pertaining to the property of the plaintiffs.

In a series of aggressive raids in September and October, city workers escorted by police seized and summarily destroyed the possessions of homeless men and women. The subsequent lawsuit that was filed called for a permanent injunction stopping the city from repeating the unlawful, unconstitutional policies and practices, because “No legitimate, lawful or moral basis exists for this wholesale destruction of people’s property.”

“The City knew these personal items were not trash—they were clearly the entirety of each of these person’s possessions, and included treasured family photographs and mementos, prescription medication, and blankets to keep warm,” said Scott Dreher of the Dreher Law Firm. “The city’s actions are unconscionable.”

“These raids have nothing to do with cleaning up trash,” said David Blair-Loy, legal director of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties. “This is purely and simply a drive to force homeless people out—out of the neighborhood, out of the city, and out of sight and mind.”

The ACLU and Dreher Law Firm plan to discuss the ongoing protection of the homeless’ property and they have been assured by the City of San Diego that the property of homeless people will not be destroyed while these discussions are ongoing.

"Anyone coming downtown knows we have a huge homeless problem. It is not good for anyone-- including the homeless-- for people to be living on the streets. We look forward to working on ways to address these problems,” said City Attorney Jan Goldsmith.

Property belonging to a homeless person is not the only issue at stake. Attorneys representing the plaintiffs also claim that the City of San Diego has established policies and practices that discriminate against homeless individuals and violate their constitutional rights, including freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, to due process, and to equal protection under the law.

“We look forward to a productive dialogue,” said Dreher. “Everyone can win if these problems are addressed in a way that respects fundamental rights,” said David Blair-Loy, legal director of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties.