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The Homeless Can Now Hold Onto More Property on the Streets of Skid Row

Los Angeles, CA – Feb. 14: Tony Shaw of Koreatown emerges from his tent to sort his belongings and prevent sanitation workers from taking his property on February 14, 2019. (Brian Feinzimer)

[dropcap size=big]L[/dropcap]os Angeles police officers and city workers will now have strict limits on their ability to seize unhoused people’s property in downtown L.A., according to a legal settlement previously approved by the City Council recently filled in federal court. The decision was a defeat for downtown business groups, who wanted stricter rules on bulky property on the streets of Skid Row, home to the largest semi-permanent homeless encampment in the United States.

The agreement filed last Wednesday in court settles a 2016 lawsuit by activists who said the LAPD officers violated their 4th, 5th, and 14th Amendment rights by confiscating and destroying their property. According to records obtained by Curbed Los Angeles, the new settlement limits for three years the seizure of any item that is not “abandoned, presents an immediate threat to public health/safety, is evidence of a crime, or is contraband.”

Meanwhile, more reports have emerged of city workers getting rare infections linked to rat-infested blocks in downtown’s Skid Row. Two LAPD employees working in downtown have been infected by a strain of bacteria that causes typhoid fever, amid growing unsanitary conditions in the heart of the city.

A rat infestation, linked to a particularly filthy and neglected stretch of Ceres Avenue last fall, caused a typhus outbreak that eventually spread to City Hall in February and has now hit the LAPD’s Central Division station, which serves most of downtown and the surrounding areas. The initial typhus outbreak led to a series of sidewalk property seizures in the area that underscored a years-old battle between homeless rights activists and the city over the issue.

According to a report by the L.A. Times, unsanitary conditions and a rat infestation was discovered last November at Central Division Station. The California Department of Industrial Relations cited the LAPD six times and fined $5,425 the department on May 14.

On May 29, it was revealed that one employee working at LAPD's Central Division has been diagnosed with typhoid fever and the other with “salmonella typhi-like symptoms.” Officials did not link the exact cause of the rare infections nor did they say if the employees were police officers. But the report indicates that the conditions “have become a source of growing anger inside the station, with some officers threatening to seek transfers and city leaders scrambling to address the problems.”

“The mayor is working with the department to get to the bottom of this situation — and will take every possible step to protect the health and safety of all our employees,” Alex Comisar, a spokesman for Mayor Eric Garcetti, told the Times.

RELATED: 'End Food Supply and End Encampment on Our Street? Just a Thought'~ Hollywood Emails Chart Coordination Against Homeless

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