City Council votes to move Malibu’s homeless out of town
Last Thursday, in a special meeting, the Malibu City Council met to discuss a single agenda item: the subject of alternative sleeping places (ASL) for the homeless. The historically divided council voted unanimously 4-0 to act on this deeply divisive city issue (Councillor Karen Farrer was absent).
The motion passed was to “direct the homeless task force to adopt the master plan to pursue an ASL outside of Malibu, without using Malibu money.” That last part meant they would like to apply for government grants or funding rather than spending the city’s money.
With this decision, the ASL will be delayed until external funds are secured.
Current laws state that the city cannot legally arrest homeless people for sleeping on public property. However, if the city has an official indoor “alternate sleeping place” to offer, law enforcement may give that homeless person the option of moving on their own, possibly being arrested, or being transported to the city’s ASL. This would all be part of anti-camping ordinance enforcement.
The 2009 Martin v. Boise Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision, which was later upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, ruled that cities could not enforce anti-camping ordinances on public property with people without shelter if there was no indoor shelter for them. for. Otherwise, it amounts to punishing people for being homeless.
Bill Winokur, the working group’s vice-chairman, explained that an ASL is “not necessarily a great refuge.” This could be multi-family housing, some type of centralized facility, or the rental of a guaranteed number of beds in homeless facilities in other communities.
The rationale for obtaining ASL outside of Malibu is that it is in the interest of public safety and that other communities have better homeless services in terms of access to medical facilities , jobs, affordable housing and transportation.
Public Safety Director Susan Duenas warned that this was not a stealth operation – other jurisdictions must be partners in efforts to locate an ASL in another city. Malibu needs to be transparent and reach out to what it’s doing so there are no surprises.
Kelly Pessis, a member of the task force, argued that an ASL could not just be a sleeping facility – that it had to be staffed with social services, doctors and counselors, and asserted that Malibu was not able to offer all this.
However, Kay Gabbard, a longtime homeless advocate, pointed out that many homeless people in Malibu are already connected to these services through The People Concern’s two full-time outreach workers in Malibu, and doctors and psychiatrists from the Venice Clinic who do weekly fieldwork in Malibu.
“They already have services they are connected to.” she says. “Moving them to another location disrupts the services they are already receiving from the Venice Family Clinic, etc.”
The Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station Malibu Liaison, Lt. Chad Watters, noted that in his experience in the Lancaster area, “unserviced homeless shelters just become [flop houses] that attract the homeless. He was in favor of finding ASLs somewhere outside of Malibu.
Mayor Pro Tem Bruce Silverstein said he felt any help with unhoused amounts empowered them.
“I’m opposed to Malibu spending a dime to help the homeless unless they’re actually from Malibu,” Silverstein said.
As a lawyer, Silverstein said he could challenge the courts and get a different legal interpretation of Martin v. Wooded. He invited the public to watch his YouTube video on the subject.
Silverstein also said he thinks “the majority of Malibu residents don’t want ASL here.” This understanding is based on the people he talks to; no official investigation has been carried out yet.
The homelessness task force will assess the options available for an ASL outside of Malibu and then report back before implementing anything.