The latest homeless encampment lawsuit could be dubbed ‘Sacramento v. Sacramento,’ as the county’s DA has sued the city for not cleaning up homeless encampments.
British newspaper The Independent has a funny but largely inaccurate headline today, declaring “Why California cities are suing themselves over homeless encampments.” It references the current ACLU and Coalition on Homelessness’ lawsuit against clearing encampments in San Francisco, but the city is certainly not suing itself. And it also references a new lawsuit from the Sacramento County DA against the city of Sacramento trying to force encampment sweeps, a suit that was just announced Tuesday, according to the New York Times. But in this case, it’s the Sacramento County DA suing just the city, so Sacramento is not “suing themselves.”
Still, Sacramento County DA Thien Ho’s lawsuit says the city is allowing itself to “collapse into chaos,” and that the encampments are leading to an “erosion of everyday life.”
“In the last 7 years, Sacramento’s unhoused population has exploded by over 250%,” the lawsuit says. “There are more homeless people in Sacramento than San Francisco. Our community is at a breaking point. We have an unhoused population living in conditions typical of Third World countries. And we have the rest of the community stuck between compassion and chaos.”
The lawsuit does not ask monetary damages, but instead for “injunctive relief.” Specifically, that means enforcing city ordinances to keep sidewalks clear, creating safe grounds, and banning daytime camping.
Sacramento mayor Darrell Steinberg said in a statement that the lawsuit was a “performative distraction,” and that “The city needs real partnership from the region’s leaders, not politics and lawsuits.”
Like San Francisco, Sacramento has been legally hamstrung in clearing encampments, because they too faced a federal judge’s ruling that they couldn't sweep encampments during extreme heat. That order has since been lifted, but the homeless population advocacy group behind the suit is trying to get the order reinstated.
Which could put Sacramento in the unique position of getting sued for clearing encampments, while simultaneously getting sued for not clearing encampments.
Image: Leo via Unsplash