Legal Showdown Brewing Between Homeless, Tulare County Over Eviction
Visalia Times Delta
People living in a large Tulare County homeless encampment are taking the sheriff’s department to court to defend what they see as their home and a safe place to isolate amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In January, Tulare County deputies served Tule River residents a “notice of trespass and clean-up.” Deputies alerted the encampment residents that they would need to leave because neighbors and property owners had complained about conditions along the river. They have not yet moved forward with the eviction.
Law enforcement is obligated to notify homeless encampment residents when a clean up or eviction “sweep” is coming, but longtime residents of the river argue that the notices they received are illegal.
Michael Bracamontes, a civil rights attorney, said officials cannot remove people from public lands without a shelter available. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that doing so amounts to “cruel and unusual punishment,” a violation of the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
It will likely be up to a Tulare County judge to decide whether removing the residents — some of whom have lived in and along the river for more than a decade — is permissible.