City Attorney David Chiu filed a motion today in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California seeking clarification on Judge Donna Ryu’s order in Coalition on Homelessness v. City and County of San Francisco
SAN FRANCISCO (January 3, 2023) — City Attorney David Chiu filed a motion today in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California seeking clarification on Judge Donna Ryu’s order in Coalition on Homelessness v. City and County of San Francisco. The December 23 order prohibits San Francisco from threatening to enforce certain sitting, lying, and sleeping laws against “involuntarily homeless individuals” as long as the number of people experiencing homelessness exceeds the number of available shelter beds. However, whether the Court meant “involuntarily homeless individuals” to include all people in San Francisco who are experiencing homelessness is in contention and is what the City is seeking clarification on.
In addition to the practical implications, Judge Ryu’s order potentially conflicts with another federal court order that the City is subject to in Hastings College of the Law v. City and County of San Francisco. In that stipulated injunction, the Court mandated San Francisco conduct enhanced enforcement in the Tenderloin against individuals who have refused shelter offers in order to prevent re-encampment.
City Attorney Chiu released the following statement on the motion for clarification:
“Without clarification, the Court’s order puts San Francisco in an impossible situation, practically and legally. I am concerned that this order, if interpreted broadly, will lead to more people suffering on our City streets.
It defies logic to require that San Francisco have shelter for all persons experiencing homelessness before San Francisco may enforce these laws against any one person, even after that individual has refused adequate shelter. It would take years and an additional $1.45 billion to build the required shelter beds and provide homeless services, and many beds would go unused as people refused shelter.
The City must be allowed to balance both addressing homelessness with services and shelter with maintaining healthy and safe streets. We sincerely hope the Court will recognize the need for this balance as this case moves forward.
San Francisco must also be able to balance our legal obligations. As of now, one federal court order limits the City’s enforcement and another federal court order mandates enhanced enforcement. These two orders cannot exist harmoniously without further clarification, and we urge the Court to interpret the meaning of “involuntarily homeless” consistent with the Ninth Circuit’s decisions in Johnson v. Grants Pass and Martin v. Boise.
San Francisco has invested more in permanent supportive housing and homelessness than any other city in the Western United States. The City engages, shelters, and houses tens of thousands of people each year. City employees work diligently to provide services and shelter to people experiencing homeless to help alleviate what has become a nationwide, intractable problem. The City will continue to offer services and shelter and is committed to addressing our homelessness crisis for the good of all San Franciscans.”
The motion for clarification can be found here.