The United States Law Week

Los Angeles Covid-19 Shelters Will Worsen Transmission, Suit Says

April 8, 2020, 11:28 PM

Residents of Los Angeles asked a state court to stay the city’s plans to use a local recreation center as provisional housing for homeless individuals during the Covid-19 outbreak.

A recreation center in Pacific Palisades, a residential neighborhood of Los Angeles, would be used to temporarily house at-risk homeless individuals, as part of a proposed plan to slow the spread of the virus.

Palisades is one of 42 recreation centers included in the plan, which was proposed by Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) in March, and would provide beds for around 6,000 individuals currently living in encampments throughout the city. This constitutes a tenth of the local homeless population, the suit, filed by Palisades resident Susie Forte Gilman, says.

Representatives of Pacific Palisades reached out to the mayor’s office in March following the announcement, the suit says, and were told that the citywide plan would move the most at risk, frail and elderly unsheltered individuals indoors where they will have improved access to sanitation and hygiene services.

“The CDC and numerous public health organizations vehemently disagree,” the suit states. According to the complaint, the CDC has indicated that moving homeless people from their current locations to a shelter is likely to worsen transmission of Covid-19, and moving at-risk individuals into a crowded location would be worse than a nursing home or cruise ship.

“While well-intended, Defendants’ actions threaten to harm not just Plaintiff and others in the community of the Pacific Palisades, but also the homeless people that Defendants intend to help,” the suit said.

Concerns raised to the Mayor’s office by local residents, regarding the lack of showers, inadequate restrooms, lack of hot water, and plumbing issues, haven’t been answered, the lawsuit states.

In nearby Orange County, the City of Laguna Woods filed suit against the county’s response to the pandemic earlier this week. In that case, the county entered into a lease to take over a hotel, and convert it into temporary accommodations for homeless individuals who have tested positive for Covid-19 or are presumed to be positive.

Cause of action: Public Nuisance

Relief: Declaratory and injunctive relief; attorneys’ fees and costs

Response: The Los Angeles Mayor’s Office didn’t immediately respond to Bloomberg Law’s request for comments.

Attorneys: Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp LLP represents Gilman.

The case is Gilman v. City of Los Angeles, Cal. Super. Ct., No. 20STCV13526, 4/7/20.

To contact the reporter on this story: Maeve Allsup in San Francisco at mallsup@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Carmen Castro-Pagan at ccastro-pagan@bloomberglaw.com

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