Plaintiffs Say Majority of Legal Issues in San Francisco Homelessness Lawsuit Unrelated to Grants Pass case

Coalition on Homelessness v. City of San Francisco must proceed

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SAN FRANCISCO – Today, plaintiffs in Coalition on Homelessness v. City of San Francisco filed a brief in federal district court in response to the City’s motion to stay, or suspend, the entire lawsuit. In today’s brief, plaintiffs argue that the case against San Francisco should proceed while the U.S. Supreme Court reviews Grants Pass v. Johnson. 

The lawsuit Coalition on Homelessness v. City of San Francisco challenges San Francisco’s costly and ineffective practices that criminalize homelessness. The Ninth Circuit recently affirmed a preliminary injunction issued in the case by the district court. Because both Grants Pass and Coalition on Homelessness have some underlying case law in common, San Francisco submitted a brief asking the district court to stay the San Francisco case until the Supreme Court issues its decision in Grants Pass. 

“The parties can and should continue to work toward resolving the claims at issue in the San Francisco case while the Supreme Court considers Grants Pass.,” said Nisha Kashyap, Senior Staff Attorney with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area. “We all recognize the urgency in addressing San Francisco’s affordable housing and homelessness crisis. Putting this case on hold for months will only delay our ability to come to a meaningful resolution on the many issues covered in the San Francisco case.” 

In today’s filing, plaintiffs argue that the majority of the legal issues in the San Francisco case are not under review in the Grants Pass case. Only one of thirteen claims in the San Francisco lawsuit directly builds on the findings in Grants Pass. Grants Pass  is silent on the issues of San Francisco’s destruction of unhoused people’s personal property that they need to survive, the City’s failure to make reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities, and whether the manner in which encampments are cleared unlawfully endangers people’s lives. A ruling in Grants Pass from the Supreme Court will not resolve those claims. 

The City’s proposed stay also would suspend the City’s obligation to provide regular disclosures related to the City’s ongoing encampment resolutions to the plaintiffs. This would hamstring the plaintiffs’ and public’s ability to monitor the City’s compliance with the preliminary injunction. 

Instead of a total stay, plaintiffs have proposed a sensible extension of the court deadlines to allow all the parties to continue to make progress to resolving all of the claims in this lawsuit, while the Supreme Court reviews Grants Pass.      

“Once again, we see the City of San Francisco engaging in legal maneuvering rather than problem solving or more investment in known solutions when it comes to addressing homelessness,” added John Do, senior staff attorney with the ACLU of Northern California. “We hope the City will refocus its energies on commonsense solutions to get folks on the street housed.”

For more information about the ongoing lawsuit and injunction in Coalition on Homelessness v. City of San Francisco read these FAQs

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