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City of L.A. sued over Mayor Bass' emergency powers on homelessness

By City News Service,

2023-09-26

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A nonprofit organization Tuesday announced it filed a lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles over Mayor Karen Bass' emergency powers in addressing the homelessness crisis.

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Fix the City, an organization with a history of suing to block development projects, filed its lawsuit Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court. The lawsuit challenges the mayor's use of emergency powers, which they say enables the mayor to "overstep her authority by wielding emergency powers that stretch beyond their intended scope."

"...The mayor can unilaterally execute contracts, suspect competitive bidding laws, issue new rules, orders, and regulations that take effect immediately, and commandeer property -- all without any due process, any requirement of public hearings or public involvement of any kind including the city's own neighborhood councils," according to a statement from Fix the City.

Mayor Karen Bass' office did not immediately respond to requests for a comment. The Los Angeles Times reported that Clara Karger, a mayoral spokesperson, said "The complaint was just filed and we will take time to review it."

According to Times, which first wrote about the lawsuit, Fix the City seeks to "rescind three executive orders issued by Bass as part of the homelessness emergency, two of which were written to speed up the city's review and approval of homeless shelters and affordable housing."

A third serves as "the backbone of the mayor's Inside Safe initiative, which has been moving unhoused residents off the streets and into temporary and permanent housing," the Times reported.

Immediately after taking office, Bass declared a state of emergency on homelessness in December. The mayor reworked her emergency declaration in July, which was approved by the council as well.

The declaration authorizes Bass "to commandeer property and use it for temporary housing, suspend competitive bidding on contracts that last less than a year and issue orders and directives aimed at addressing the housing and homelessness emergency," the Times reported.

Fix the City asserts that while the city's homelessness crisis is indeed a significant concern, it should be addressed through legal and transparent channels such as the 2015 declared shelter crisis.

The lawsuit aims to compel the city to follow proper procedures, including obtaining necessary approvals and engaging with the public in addressing homelessness rather than relying solely on emergency powers.

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