Judge authorizes relocation of Sausalito homeless camp
A federal judge has upheld Sausalito’s plan to move homeless campers from a grass field to three tennis courts in Marinship Park.
U.S. District Court Judge Edward Chen released his decision in a teleconference hearing Thursday. He also rejected a motion by the California Homeless Union to charge Sausalito with contempt for his treatment of the roughly 40 campers at the city-licensed site.
“Contempt is a big step. You have to show that they knew it was a danger and they didn’t do anything about it, ”Chen said. “There is no proof of this.”
The hearing arose out of a California Homeless Union complaint about the discovery of fecal contamination in the park. The city asked Chen to approve the transfer to the tennis courts following the results.
“The city is pleased with the recent ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Chen, which allows the city to relocate the Marinship Park tent camp from the grassy area of the park to the tennis courts, providing a safe campsite. occupants of the camp and allowing the City to broaden its analysis of the grassy area, ”Mayor Jill Hoffman said in an email.
Anthony Prince, an attorney representing homeless plaintiffs, said he disagreed with Chen’s decision.
“We are disappointed but we are not discouraged,” Prince said. “We want to inform the city of Sausalito that it is not a green light for the city to do what it wants. We are a long way from the trial.
A civil rights lawsuit brought by the California Homeless Union against the city is still pending. Sausalito is the subject of a preliminary injunction prohibiting him from enforcing a ban on camping during the day or from cleaning the camp.
During the hearing Thursday, Sausalito’s attorney, Arthur Friedman, confirmed the discovery of fecal contamination at the site. He said the soil samples were taken near the bathroom sewer lines, which suggests that any contamination was isolated there. The positive result led the city to temporarily move the camp to the tennis courts, he said.
The city’s findings were made after campers obtained two soil tests and found evidence of fecal contamination. They said the campers got sick and went to the hospital as a result.
Chen decided that the temporary camp would be established on the tennis courts for “some time” while the fecal contamination was investigated. He said the camp would be built on platforms to provide some protection against flooding.
Friedman also claimed the tennis courts were a temporary move while the contamination was investigated. He said the tennis courts would be a suitable site for the camp during the wet winter months.
“This type of contamination can be corrected easily,” Friedman said. “We want to get in there. We want to do an investigation to find out what is going on. We want to clean it up.
Friedman said Urban Alchemy, an organization the city hired to provide services to Marinship for the next six months, supported the relocation.
“It’s something that we can do quickly,” Friedman said.
Hoffman said Urban Alchemy will lead the relocation of campers to the tennis courts. She said the move would be “phased”, but the process was already underway.
“The city bought new tents and put up platforms on the tennis court to accommodate each tent,” she said.
Hoffman said the city plans to hire a company for further contamination testing.
Prince argued that the city deserved to be looked down upon because of the cumulative impact of its management of the camp. He described the tennis courts as an affront to the dignity of homeless campers and compared them to a prison.
Prince said the tennis courts pose a health and safety concern as they sit on the same plane as the Marinship Park grounds and could be inundated.
“They need to be able to move to higher ground,” Prince said.
Robbie Powelson, one of the plaintiffs in the case, said a dozen homeless people listened to the hearing from Marinship Park.
“I think it’s a travesty of justice that Sausalito gets away with in his treatment of homeless people,” Powelson said.
Chen has scheduled the next case management conference for 2:30 p.m. on February 15.