The homeless of Laguna Beach scored a victory in their federal lawsuit against the city.
U.S. District Judge Andrew Guilford ruled Monday that transportation to Laguna Beach’s sole shelter is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act.
The ACLU Foundation of Southern California and the Paul Hastings law firm, on behalf of Laguna Beach's homeless, are suing the city, claiming several parts of its homeless program violate federal standards for accessibility. The trial is scheduled to begin on Aug. 1.
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Guilford ruled the van used to transport homeless people about two miles from the city center to the shelter violates federal standards because it lacks ramps and lifts, which can be critical because many users have physical or mental disabilities.
The judge has also ruled that the remaining issues in the lawsuit will be tried as a class action that represents all people with disabilities in Laguna Beach experiencing homelessness. But Guilford found there was insufficient evidence to establish police ticketing people for sleeping in public overnight violates the constitutional rights of the homeless.
While noting the latter issue can be appealed, the ACLU SoCal expressed satisfaction with the judge's other rulings.
"This is important because of the growing problem of homelessness in one of the wealthiest enclaves in Southern California,” said Eve Garrow, homelessness policy analyst with the ACLU SoCal. “The reality is that Laguna Beach has adopted a strategy that punishes disabled individuals merely for falling on hard times."