The ACLU and the Coalition on Homelessness offered SF City Hall a settlement to end their nearly year-long lawsuit against encampment sweeps, but City Attorney David Chiu says no deal.
Update (Aug. 10, 2:55 p.m.): The Examiner reports that City Attorney David Chiu is rejecting the ACLU/Coalition on Homelessnes settlement offer. “If the Coalition on Homelessness actually wanted to reach a settlement agreement, this political stunt is certainly not the way to go about it and counterproductive to their stated goals,” Chiu's office said in a statement. “Legal parties do not engage in settlement negotiations via the press, particularly when confidential settlement discussions are required."
Original story (Aug. 10, 2:10 p.m.): It was almost an entire year ago when the ACLU, the Coalition on Homelessness, and a small handful of unsheltered people sued the City of San Francisco in seeking to halt encampment sweeps, claiming they’re unconstitutional. And from a legal standpoint, things have pretty much gone the ACLU and company’s way in court; the judge issued an emergency injunction to halt the sweeps last December, and city officials have been furious since.
Magistrate Judge Ryu apparently believes the Constitution prohibits the involuntary removal of a single encampment unless and until SF has more shelter beds than homeless people. That’s absurd, and the City must appeal. https://t.co/QKtCA6g1z1 via @sfchronicle— Rafael Mandelman (@RafaelMandelman) December 24, 2022
But on Thursday, as the lawsuit keeps dragging on, the Chronicle reports that the advocates for the homeless offered the city a settlement to end the lawsuit. The ACLU submitted the settlement proposal in a nine-page letter, and also held a Thursday press conference with the Coalition on Homelessness.
In a nine-page letter sent Thursday morning, the ACLU of Northern California invited city attorney David Chiu to the negotiating table noting the “potential risks and rewards of continued litigation.” https://t.co/sRqlusAUxv— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) August 10, 2023
“Now is an opportune time to begin to work together on a future in which the City’s resources can be more fully directed toward our shared goal of ending street homelessness and tackling the City’s affordable housing crisis,” the ACLU letter says, per the Chronicle. “San Francisco must have an effective, lawful, and humane street response, fill the hundreds of vacant affordable housing units that remain empty due to bureaucratic red tape, expand access to shelter, aggressively spend the hundreds of millions of dollars already earmarked for affordable housing and rent protection, and ensure that the City provides the quality social services promised to taxpayers.”
The settlement proposes the plaintiffs will call off the lawsuit if the city fills all of an estimated 1,000 vacant affordable housing units, expand the funding from voter-approved homeless funding measures, and greatly expand shelter bed capacity. They also demand that SF “stop sending police to solve housing issues.”
“Our commonsense settlement proposals would benefit the City and all of its residents and taxpayers,” the ACLU letter says.
A spokesperson for City Attorney David Chiu’s office said in a statement to the Chronicle they were “very surprised” by the settlement offer, but did not elaborate further. Still, one senses it is highly unlikely the city will take the settlement offer as stands, as just the shelter bed demand alone would require the city to much more than double their shelter bed capacity. But we’ll see how City Hall responds, and whether this is the beginning of a legitimate bargaining and compromise process.
Image: Joe Kukura, SFist