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SANTA MONICA : Homeless Shelter OKd as Step Toward Clearing Parks

The Santa Monica City Council, responding to growing complaints from residents about the homeless, has voted to open a temporary homeless shelter for more than 100 people as a prelude to evicting transients who live in the city’s parks.

In a 6-0 vote Tuesday night, the council acted on the advice of new City Atty. Marsha Jones Moutrie, who said such a shelter was needed to comply with a recent state Court of Appeal ruling. The ruling, in a Santa Ana case, says a city cannot legally ban sleeping in all public places without providing an alternative place to sleep.

The council also agreed to cooperate with a California Grocers Assn. shopping cart retrieval program in which contractors pick up stray carts. Many residents have complained about the noise from the carts, which many homeless people use to stow their belongings.

The effort to clean up the parks was proposed last week by council members Asha Greenberg and Robert T. Holbrook as part of an overall crackdown on the homeless inspired by complaints from residents about intolerable conditions.

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In addition to the new shelter, which will be opened as soon as possible, the council next month will consider new laws to address panhandling, including limiting the practice to daylight hours.

Public interest attorneys from the National Lawyers Guild said they would press forward on a dormant lawsuit seeking to overturn the city’s law that bans camping in the park. The guild considers the law unconstitutional.


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