Judge orders Phoenix to clean up, get rid of tents in ‘The Zone’
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- The City of Phoenix has been ordered to clean up the sprawling downtown homeless encampment known as “The Zone.” Judge Scott Blaney sided on Monday with downtown Phoenix business owners who sued the city regarding the homeless camp, citing an increase in crime, drug usage in public, biohazards and break-ins affecting their businesses.
Judge Blaney ruled the city is maintaining a “public nuisance” and city officials must show evidence at a July 10 hearing that they’re cleaning the area. The lawsuit states the city should have no tents within public property and pick up biohazards, including urine, feces, drugs and trash. The lawsuit says it’s up to the city how they’ll follow the order.
Lawyers with the business owners said the city allowed homeless people to set up permanent tent encampments on public sidewalks and decreased enforcement of loitering, drunken and disorderly conduct, drug use, domestic violence and more. Officials previously argued that it’s up to the city how they choose to enforce policies or disperse resources. One of the examples lawyers cited in the lawsuit is the “courtesy rides” policy, which takes people from different parts of Phoenix to the Human Services Campus near 15th Avenue and Jefferson Street. The lawsuit alleges the courtesy rides “inevitably result in more homeless individuals residing on the streets of the Zone.”
In addition, the lawsuit says business owners call Phoenix police two to three times a day and typically, officers arrive within 30-40 minutes. Lawyers say police ask the homeless people to leave the businesses but won’t have them leave the area completely, even if they’re on drugs. Owners and employees say they no longer feel safe in the area and need to walk in groups. “Employees of businesses in the Zone have been violently attacked and they face verbal confrontations with homeless individuals almost daily,” the lawsuit says.
The City of Phoenix released a statement to Arizona’s Family regarding the ruling.
Copyright 2023 KTVK/KPHO. All rights reserved.