City of Sacramento Will Ask 9th Circuit Appeals Court to Reverse Homeless Union’s Injunction to Stop Sweeps of Homeless Camps

Union Claims City Trying to Evict Disabled Vet, Family

By Crescenzo Vellucci
The Vanguard Sacramento Bureau Chief

SACRAMENTO, CA – The city of Sacramento has apparently decided to appeal a federal court preliminary injunction from last year, and extended this month, that prevents the city from breaking up homeless camps through August because of extreme Sacramento heat that has hit 90 to 100 degrees or more all month.

Meanwhile, the Sacramento Homeless Union revealed Monday the city is trying to evict an unhoused, disabled U.S. military veteran and her family of five, including four children under 10 years old.

According to a “notice” of appeal of a restraining order issued by U.S. District Judge Troy Nunley—and violated by the city several times by all accounts—the city is asking the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to weigh in on the order, which mandates the unhoused to be left alone unless they are within 500 feet of a school or if they block too much of a sidewalk.

The notice of appeal was filed by outside counsel for the city, Lee H. Roistacher of the Solano Beach-based law firm of Dean Gazzo Roistacher LLP.

Judge Nunley has asked the city to “show cause why it should not be held in contempt of court for previously violating TRO.”

Anthony Prince, legal counsel for the union late Monday night told The Vanguard, “The City of Sacramento has now retained outside counsel from San Diego to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse Judge Nunley’s Temporary Restraining Orders regarding the displacement of unhoused persons from areas where they have sought protection from potentially deadly extreme heat.

“That the City has chosen to double down in this way shows the utter disregard they have for the lives and safety of tens of thousands of unsheltered Sacramentans. The standard that the Ninth Circuit will apply is whether Judge Nunley abused his discretion and we are confident that the City’s appeal will be denied.”

Prince added, “Judge Nunley did the right thing and we are going to rally the housing justice community far and wide; the lawyers, the organized homeless, the medical societies, the students, the seniors to join us to make sure we have the public awareness of what is at stake and the support necessary to make sure that the City’s latest act of social irresponsibility fails.”

The union Monday also announced it would soon take legal action by the union against Sacramento District Attorney Thien Ho for “abusing his authority, violating Rules of Professional Responsibility and importuning the City of Sacramento to violate a federal injunction.”

Regarding the honorably discharged vet, the union said a “defective” notice was served on the family, camping downtown, and “currently surviving the heat in an area where they have access to water and where they have been located since 2021.”

“If this family is displaced, they will have nowhere to go as they have neither been offered alternative shelter or services of any kind by the City of Sacramento or anyone else (because) the Notice is defective and…removing this family would constitute a violation of Judge Nunley’s Order…this is to advise you that no action to remove this family should be taken not only during the pendency of the extended TRO, but at any time, given the defective notice,” the union wrote city legal staff Monday.

In the city court order case, federal Judge Nunley wrote last week, “The Court concludes the weather forecast predicting excessive heat for the upcoming weeks and Plaintiffs’ evidence detailing the risk of heat-related deaths and illnesses is sufficient to show that irreparable harm will result in the absence of injunctive relief.”

The judge also granted a request by the union to allow representatives into the Miller Park Safeground, an approved encampment, to monitor conditions of those unhoused there.

And, the court barred the city from taking “items of personal/survival necessity” of the homeless – only trash – if and when they must be moved from city streets. The union and homeless advocates have long complained the city takes and discards medications, and other personal belongings of the unhoused when they do sweeps.

“Once again, Judge Troy L. Nunley has ordered the City to stop placing our unhoused neighbors in harm’s way in the middle of extreme temperatures. This is the fourth time he has issued the same order,” said the union in a statement.

“We are also grateful that the judge has ordered the City to explain why it should not be held in contempt of court for violating the initial Temporary Restraining Order by kicking homeless persons out of City Hall Plaza where they had a right to be in order to be in the shade and get out of the direct sun and heat,” the union added.

Sacramento Homeless Union President Crystal Sanchez said, ““Homelessness is an incredibly complex issue, but one of the most important steps is providing the necessary resources to those in need…the city has the opportunity to reprioritize and strengthen its investment in helping those who are living on the streets and the surrounding community by bringing in true solutions to end the suffering of homelessness.”

Prince charged, “It’s time for the City of Sacramento to stop ignoring the risks of these extreme weather conditions, not just on the homeless, but on all of our most vulnerable and marginalized residents, seniors, persons with disabilities, those who can’t afford to air condition their homes either because they cannot afford it or struggle with high utility bills.”

Prince added, “You would think by now the City would stop making a bad situation worse by cruelly kicking unhoused persons out of more shaded areas into a more dangerous circumstance.”

The union noted it would “work with the City and Sacramento Couty, should they wish to finally take into consideration the concerns of the unhoused, the small businesses and the neighborhoods instead of setting us against each other and wasting more taxpayers’ money on failed ‘solutions.’”

In response to the complaints of the city to the court about the unhoused, the judge wrote in the order that the “City’s arguments are unpersuasive…As this Court has repeatedly stated, the City’s interest in clearing encampments during extreme heat is far outweighed by Plaintiffs’ interest in the health and welfare of unhoused individuals.”

The union told the federal judge to find the city in contempt of court for disobeying his order.

“As you know, last week the City violated (U.S. District Court) Judge (Troy) Nunley’s Temporary Restraining Order when police and security guards kicked campers out of City Hall Plaza. As a result, many unhoused persons are scared to return to the shade of City Hall Plaza,” said the union.

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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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