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Phoenix caught in a legal Catch-22 with 2 lawsuits regarding 'The Zone'

Published: Tuesday, October 10, 2023 - 2:34pm
Updated: Wednesday, October 11, 2023 - 7:47am
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The city of Phoenix has been fielding two lawsuits regarding the homeless encampment known as "The Zone" near downtown. One was brought by local business and property owners that say they want the Zone cleared.

The other was brought to federal court by Fund for Empowerment, a local nonprofit, and the Arizona ACLU. They say Phoenix must stop what they allege were unannounced raids on people sleeping or camping outside.

Now, lawyers for the city say they’re caught in a legal Catch-22.

In the federal case, an injunction from December 2022 restricted the city from enforcing bans on unhoused people living outside if they can’t practically obtain shelter.

Last month, a Maricopa Superior Court judge mandated that the remainder of the Zone be cleared by Nov. 4.

On Monday, attorneys representing Phoenix wrote that the “city may be forced to choose between violating one injunction or the other, with either outcome leading to sanctions.”

They’re asking that a federal district court judge modify the December injunction to allow the city to enforce “anti-camping laws” so long as they provide alternate shelter or allow people to go “elsewhere on public land.”

The city, they wrote, faces “a situation not dissimilar to the choice between foregoing sleep or being criminally charged.”

Politics Housing
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