Respecting the rights of the homeless

Respecting the rights of the homeless

A Los Angeles City Council committee took the smart step this week of removing criminal penalties and fines from a controversial new law involving the treatment of homeless people's possessions. While it's true that city officials have a responsibility to keep the streets safe and clean, they must find ways to do so that respect the rights and legitimate needs of the homeless.

Under the ordinance as passed in June, city sanitation workers were given permission to take away homeless people's belongings on the streets and sidewalks after 24 hours' notice; the goal was to find a way to clear some of the more expansive homeless encampments. But in the original version, people who...