LA's new rule: homeless people are only allowed to own one trashcan's worth of things

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You know what will fix this? Another Clinton.

…Yeah, right.


Getting busted for having too much stuff? The American dream is indeed dead. Well, as long as it applies to rich and poor alike.

One can imagine the glee with which the police will enforce this law. “Well, we got everything in, so we’ll let you off with a warning. You can put your clothes back on. Sorry about your tent poles. And your dog.”



I think if a homeless person had more possessions than 60 gallons, they would quickly find the excess stolen. It’s hard to protect your property rights without locks and walls. And there’s always somebody ready to prey on the poorest.


LA is in california, right? Don’t they have some sort of enormous drought that will stretch into several future generations, and continue to get worse, caused by some farming corporations and cities sucking dry the aquifer/climate change?

I think maybe all those new apartments are going to lose a fair amount of their value this year or next.


Somebody like… the police?


In LA, yes. That was exactly the point of the article.


Can you imagine the outcry if basically any of the actually-considered-human elements of society were subjected to restrictions on how much private property the state will allow you to amass?

I mean, Holy Death Tax, Batman! if we hadn’t more or less agreed that the people involved aren’t real people, state regulation of ‘excessive property’ would have pretty much every element of the political spectrum howling for your blood.


I certainly don’t wish to minimize the risks endured by the homeless(which, like those of the mentally ill, are very much of the ‘more prey than predator, whatever reputation to the contrary’); but it wouldn’t surprise me if the sheer squalor and low value of some of what becomes essential when homeless(eg. dubiously clean bedding/rain protection materials are somewhat bulky; but worth less than nothing to any financially motivated thief) protects some of their stuff; and that there is a certain amount of, no doubt imperfectly effective, socially-driven enforcement surrounding thefts between homeless people.

Informal arrangements among friends and kin to keep the away tribe from getting your stuff are, after all, older than law; and the homeless have as much interest in being able to occasionally sleep without keeping one eye open as the rest of us. I have no doubt that the effective ‘break-in’ rate, if calculated as though they had dwellings to steal the stuff from, was pretty alarming by homeowner standards; but I also suspect that unleashing a class of thieves who need no economic incentives and heed no social incentives is going to make matters dramatically worse.


There’s a recent 9th Cir. decision that relied on the 4th Amendment to justify an injunction to prohibit seizure of temporarily unattended personal property of unsheltered persons called Lavan v. City of Los Angeles (Ninth Cir.; September 5, 2012) (Case No. 11-56253) 693 F.3d 1022.

The Court ruled the 4th and 14th Amendments protect homeless persons from government seizure and summary destruction of their unabandoned, but momentarily unattended, personal property.

The types of personal property singled out by the Court included personal identification documents, birth certificates, medications, family memorabilia, toiletries, cell phones, sleeping bags and blankets.

The conclusion recognized that municipal governments retain the power to maintain public health and safety and did not create a “right” to use public sidewalks for storage of personal property.

However, the 9th Circuit has declined to let Los Angeles “. . . seize and destroy with impunity the worldly possessions of a vulnerable group in our society. . . .”

@doctorow, @j9c, @shaddack and @beschizza, there’s also an encouraging DIY/maker footnote early in the decision.

The Court recognized that EDAR units are more clearly unabandoned based on their design.


I think a shopping cart would have been a more appropriate standard of measurement then a garbage can … and a little less insulting, as well.


“No person shall…be deprived of…property without due process of law…”

- 5th Amendment

“Fuck you, LA City Council.”

- Me


Here in San Diego they are starting to institute this method, actually a 50/50 hit with the homeless.
One blaring advantage is that we have less of the homeless possessions on the streets. It’s really too soon to give it a straight up or down yet…

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60gal is a lot larger than a shopping cart and they usually have wheels, not to mention being somewhat weather-resistant. The word “garbage” could have been struck, but otherwise a reasonable unit of measure.

Now let’s take “reasonable” and call it “fucking ridiculous”, or maybe “grounds for tarring and feathering the asshat who came up with the concept”.


I’m fine with homeless people only being allowed to have possessions that would fit inside a garbage can, so long as it applies to every person in America, regardless of their housing status, or where those possessions happen to lie.


This was my first reaction, too! Impose a cap on how much wealth a rich person can own, and there at least would be some sense of balance to this.

The story of America is all about leveraged externalities. Once those outside costs are included in the books, the story stops making any sense at all.



That’s pretty generous considering how a Buddhist monk can get by with just a bowl and a robe.

edit: /s

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The difference is that he willingly gives up a lot of pointless stuff and is supported by charity whereas the homeless persons stuff being forcibly removed against his or her will.


How long until someone expresses their disappointment in Boing Boing and Cory for this piece?