LOS ANGELES (AP) — The 9th U.S. Court of Appeals on Thursday overturned a federal judge’s sweeping order that required the city and county of Los Angeles to quickly find shelter for all homeless people living on downtown’s Skid Row.
The appeals court found extensive error by U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter, who is overseeing a major lawsuit about the problem of homelessness in Los Angeles.
The appeals court found that the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring most of their claims in the lawsuit and that Carter based his preliminary injunction on claims and theories that were not made by the plaintiffs.
Carter issued the 110-page order in late April that slammed local officials’ inability to restrain the unprecedented growth of homelessness that has seen encampments spread into nearly every neighborhood in the region.
The order gave the city and county 180 days to house Skid Row homeless and to audit any spending related to the crisis of people living on the streets.
The lawsuit was brought by a coalition that includes business and property owners, landlords and others who allege that inaction by the city and county on the problem has created a dangerous environment.
The appeals court said Carter’s order was premised on his finding that structural racism was the driving force behind the Los Angeles homelessness crisis and the disproportionate impact on the Black community, but none of the plaintiffs’ claims were based on racial discrimination.
“To fill the gap, the district court impermissibly resorted to independent research and extra-record evidence,” the appellate decision said.
As of January 2020, there were more than 66,400 homeless people in Los Angeles County, with 41,000 within LA city limits. While the homeless population was once largely confined to the notorious Skid Row neighborhood in downtown, rows of tents, cardboard shelters, battered RVs and makeshift plywood structures are now familiar sights throughout the nation’s second-most populous city.