The City of Manhattan Beach will be joining with the City of Boise as a ‘friend of the court’ in Boise’s appeal of the atrocious, poorly-reasoned Martin decision to the US Supreme Court (see Potatoes and the 9th Circuit).
The original suit, Martin v. City of Boise, was brought by homeless advocates on behalf of several Boise area homeless persons (including one Robert Martin) who were cited for violating Boise’s anti-camping ordinance. The City won at the district court level so the homeless advocates appealed to the uber-liberal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers most of the western states, including California.
The result of the appeal was predictable.
The 9th Circuit ruled in Martin's favor, thereby rendering most anti-camping ordinances, including the one enacted last year by Manhattan Beach’s City Council (on a 5-0 vote), unenforceable when applied to the homeless unless the municipality can offer a shelter bed alternative.
The Court’s reasoning? (We're using 'reasoning' in the loosest sense of the word). Sleeping is an unavoidable consequence of being human and so cannot be subject to an anti-camping prohibition if we’re talking about a homeless person sleeping on public property because, by definition, (s)he has no other place to sleep.
Thank you, 9th Circuit, for completely eliminating personal responsibility and accountability from the equation and, in effect, making every person who plops himself/herself down on a park bench and declares they are homeless a ward of the city, regardless of their circumstances.
And, of course, the reasoning behind the court's decision won't likely end there, not by a long shot.
What other consequences of being human are there? An obvious one (which was raised by a couple of the saner 9th Circuit judges) is public defecation and urination.
So, just as the Boise ruling would allow the homeless to sleep on public property if they have nowhere else to go, so they should be able to relieve themselves in public if they have nowhere else ‘to go’ (hence, the title for this blog post).
The logical end result of all this is San Francisco’s “Poop Patrol”, where city employees combat the massive volume of public defecation by using high-pressure hoses to aerosolize street ‘deposits’ (now there’s an image).
And if you're sleeping outdoors, shouldn't you also be allowed to erect a tent or some other structure to protect you from the elements?
And what if it's cold outdoors? Perhaps an illegal campfire or starting a fire in a trashcan gets a pass.
How about eating, another consequence of being human? Obviously, food is a necessity for all humans so, by the Court’s logic, if you’re indigent, hungry and living on the streets, perhaps it’s okay to steal what you need from Ralphs.
Bathing? Well, there's a nice freshwater fountain in front of Manhattan Beach's City Hall.
The last one is facetious but you see where this is clearly headed.
All of these potential consequences are possible here in Manhattan Beach unless we pay to house our homeless (or at least have a shelter bed available to anyone in violation of our anti-camping ordinance). This, of course, is in the works but presents its own set of challenges, which we won't go into here.
So let’s hope that (a) the Supreme Court hears Boise’s appeal and (b) they rule in Boise’s favor, much as the Federal district did before the social justice warriors of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals got the case.
The Supreme Court will likely decide whether to hear this case in October. If it does decide to hear it, don't expect a decision until the 2nd quarter of next year.
Until then, the Martin precedent is the law of the land, at least in the western US and that includes Manhattan Beach.