Special to the Vanguard
Sacramento, CA – On Friday, Federal District Court Judge Troy Nunley granted in part and denied in part the Sacramento Homeless Union’s motion for mandatory and prohibitory injunctions against the City of Sacramento and the County of Sacramento regarding the dangers to the unhoused posed by extreme heat.
The judge ruled, “For the reasons set forth above, Plaintiffs’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction is GRANTED with respect to Plaintiffs’ request to temporarily enjoin the City and all of its officers, agents, servants, employees, attorneys, and all persons under their direction and control, from clearing encampments belonging to the unhoused.”
However, “In all other respects, Plaintiffs’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction is DENIED.”
The judge added, “The Court takes judicial notice of National Weather Service data, which state that the monthly highest maximum temperatures for the Sacramento area have historically occurred during the months of June, July, August, and September. National Weather Service, Climate… Accordingly, the preliminary injunction shall remain in effect for 28 days. After the expiration of the preliminary injunction, Plaintiffs may once again seek to reinstate the preliminary injunction by filing a motion with this Court making a showing on all of the Winter prongs and providing greater detail about the weather forecast for the remainder of the summer months.”
Crystal Sanchez, President of the Sacramento Homeless Union said in a statement, “While we are disappointed that we did not get all the relief we sought, we are encouraged that the Court found that sweeps constitute a state-created and, accordingly, ordered the City to cease clearing homeless encampments which expose the unhoused to a greater risk of harm by way of the extreme heat.”
She explained, “The urgency of the situation was such that we did have time to fully develop the evidence necessary to convince the Court that the County has a duty to open more cooling centers and take other measures to protect the unhoused.”
She added, “Nevertheless, we are grateful that the Court, referencing numerous declarations of the homeless themselves, rejected the City’s blatantly false claim that it has not swept unsheltered persons or cleared homeless encampments since 2018 and has now ordered them to cease and desist from doing so.
“While the injunction expires in 28 days, we fully intend, as Judge Nunley indicated would be appropriate, to gather additional evidence necessary to re-instate the injunction for the remainder of the summer. We also intend to provide additional evidence and legal authority showing that the County should be compelled to take affirmative steps to protect the most vulnerable of Sacramento’s residence from extreme heat conditions.”
In June, the Union filed for an order to declare a local emergency whenever temperatures reached or exceeded 90 degrees, require all designated cooling centers be open on a 24-hour basis, require the city and county to communicate to homeless people about the availability of cooling centers, take steps to make sure there is sufficient potable water to keep people hydrated as well as provide three meals per day.
On June 24, the judge denied the TRO but set a hearing on the motion for an injunction.
At the time, the Court indicated it would require evidence showing, for example, that the City is planning the imminent destruction of encampments currently shaded from triple-digit temperatures. We intend to present such evidence—and more —to show that the City and County must offer more than a handful of part-time cooling centers; more than pushing the homeless onto the sweltering streets and sidewalks; more than locking the unhoused into the City’s dangerously overheated “Safeground” tents.