In case you missed it, the US Supreme Court gave a big middle finger to those cities and counties in the westernmost 9 states that have been struggling with lawless homeless encampments ever since the uber-liberal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued their abomination of a ruling in the Martin v. City of Boise case. That case hinged on the enforceability of Boise, Idaho's anti-camping ordinance which was designed to prohibit such encampments on public property.
In a nutshell, that ruling stated that anti-camping ordinances such as Boise's (and, for that matter, the one enacted in September, 2018, by the Manhattan Beach City Council) are unenforceable when applied to the homeless if the municipality cannot offer them a shelter alternative.
The ruling was appealed to the US Supreme Court, with dozens of cities, including Manhattan Beach, signing on in support of Boise. However, last December, the Court refused to hear the appeal, thus letting the 9th Circuit's decision stand, at least in Idaho and the other western states subject to the 9th Circuit's jurisdiction (including California). Since the number of homeless exceeds the number of shelter beds in most western jurisdictions, this means that, in light of the abdication of their responsibility by the Supremes to address the issue, the anti-camping ordinances throughout the western United States are essentially toothless.
What does this mean for Manhattan Beach? Not a lot....yet. We're fortunate that we don't have the massive encampments so prevalent elsewhere throughout Los Angeles and the westside.
And if someone is camped out on public property, MBPD is usually pretty good at responding to the situation, even if the Boise decision means that they can't issue citations to homeless people sleeping outside when Manhattan Beach is unable to provide them access to a shelter bed (unless, of course, they're violating some other ordinance and/or endangering public safety).
But we may be living on borrowed time. Things just feel different now, when even a trip to the grocery store or to Target can be an adventure. In fact, the Target on Sepulveda experienced two police-involved encounters with deranged and threatening homeless persons (one of whom had to be tased) over the Christmas holidays.
And then there's the recent incidents involving our local schools, with one homeless person discovered in his death throes on an elementary school playground while, in a separate incident, the police were called to roust a deranged homeless person from a pre-school loft.
And let's not forget the downtown Manhattan Beach library, which is sort of ground zero for the local homeless population (like the fellow pictured here catching a few z's between the stalls while charging his cell phone). Councilperson Suzanne Hadley, who works there, even learned of a homeless person who was contacted by a Mental Evaluation Team recently and was offered services and shelter but declined because the shelter was not in Manhattan Beach. Awfully picky, aren't we?
Unfortunately, with all this going on and a homeless problem that appears poised to worsen, the Manhattan Beach City Council is missing in action.
First they disbanded the Homelessness Task Force, although that may have been a mixed blessing with at least one HTF member espousing things like shower services and gym passes for the homeless while another member (appointed by Mayor Hersman) took to social media to criticize some of her fellow task force members for being too concerned about local property values. Yeah, that's a helpful critique. (See Karma's A Bitch
Go to any of the recent Council meetings and you wouldn't even think there was a homeless problem at all. For example, MB SAFE is a local grass roots citizen group that advocates for compassionate solutions for homelessness while also being mindful of public safety (two of their directors were on the Homelessness Task Force). Yet when they held a community meeting and panel discussion in January, only one Council member, Suzanne Hadley, even bothered to show up, And while we understand a 2nd councilperson had a conflict that evening, still, that's a pretty pathetic turnout.
Meanwhile, things are about to get worse County-wide.
George Gascon (pictured here), the former San Francisco District Attorney, has been endorsed by the Democratic Party as the next Los Angeles County District Attorney. Gascon's anti-law enforcement policies, according to former Deputy DA Joseph Charney, "helped San Francisco careen into a cesspool of filth and lawlessness."
Furthermore, by co-authoring Proposition 47, Gascon "undermined law enforcement efforts to reduce theft and drug trafficking and is directly responsible for the explosion of homeless encampments in San Francisco and Los Angeles."
Blinded by ideology, Gascon sees enforcement of criminal law as oppression. Much like his radical successor in San Francisco, Chesa Boudin (the son of '70's Weather Underground terrorists and cop killers, no less), Gascon will surely eliminate enforcement of all quality of life crimes - public defecation, open-air drug use, all theft under $950 (which, thanks to his Prop 47 efforts, is a virtual non-crime already, not to mention a common occurrence at our local groceries and retailers) and, of course, camping on public property.
Gascon, heavily funded by George Soros, believes he's on a mission to eventually make jails and the police irrelevant (at which point, he will then go on to discover the first unicorn and to photograph Bigfoot riding atop the Loch Ness monster). For now, his only redeeming quality appears to be he's not a complete loon like the 3rd fringe candidate, Rachel Rossi.
Our recommendation for Los Angeles DA (currently on your ballot) - vote for the incumbent, Jackie Lacey (the best of a bad lot). And, in November, look to which candidates for Manhattan Beach City Council are most interested in promoting public safety and quality of life in our little beach enclave, as opposed to just giving these ideas lip service while they push their own personal agendas.