City Attorney Mike Feuer addresses L.A.'s role in census battle, homelessness crisis

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The city of Los Angeles was part of a lawsuit over the citizenship question on the 2020 census.

City Attorney Mike Feuer discussed the impact of the Supreme Court decision blocking the addition of the question he believes would deter participation by many of L.A.'s 3.5 million immigrants, losing millions in federal funding locally.

"As a practical matter, that question is done. It's dead," Feuer said. "And that's a good thing, because, it's likely then, for all of us, we'll be able to get an accurate count. All we've ever wanted, is a truthful, accurate count."

Appearing on "Eyewitness Newsmakers," Feuer said the ruling was especially important in light of the Supreme Court ruling on redistricting, saying the court would stay out of the matter.

"Think about the interaction between these two cases," he said, adding, "on the one hand, there's redistricting, and on the other, the census. If the census count is accurate, it makes it harder for partisan gerrymandering to undermine one person, one vote."

The city's office is broadening its work on homelessness. Feuer discussed an intervention program for substance abuse and mental illness, an outgrowth of Proposition 47 reducing felonies to misdemeanors, releasing people to the streets without the promised treatment.

He said every City Council district should have a safe place for people to sleep in their tents or cars instead of on the streets. But Feuer also said, "Given what's happening on our streets and the encampments that exist, I think that during the daytime the tents should be taken down. And what I think should happen is that people should be apprised in advance that that's the rule and offered services."

He added it should be voluntary, but if not, tents should be taken down for them, but not confiscated.

"Those tents are opaque, they're a potential public safety issue in communities. There have been locations, not everywhere, where gangs control prostitution and drugs. Tents provide a shield. It makes it very dangerous for police officers."

He agrees with the City Council adding legal representation for tenants being unlawfully evicted who likely don't know their rights.

"I know that when a tenant has a lawyer, they have a fighting chance. Without one they almost always lose. We can't have a situation where we build our way out of homelessness. We have to be preventing people from getting there in the first place." He added, "Someone who is going to be unlawfully evicted should have someone standing up for her in court."

The city attorney also described his office's Citation Clinics offering homeless people legal options to erase minor violations that can prevent them for qualifying for an apartment or job.

"So we'll help you get rid of those citations and warrants and so forth in exchange for which they must be connected to services we bring to them; housing, counseling, job training and so on."

The city attorney's office has announced it's suing the Federal Aviation Administration in Appellate Court, challenging the FAA's changes in Los Angeles International Airport flight patterns.

He is also looking at Hollywood Burbank Airport.

"We've been working on many different levels regarding noise that's related to noise from flight to Burbank Airport. And I know because I've been to homes of people adversely affected, how seriously this issue affects daily life for homeowners and businesses alike." Feuer said. "We got the FAA to agree to an environmental assessment of prospective flight patterns and consider what I consider the most important substantive goal: dispersal of the flights."

Feuer made an appeal to cannabis users to patronize legal, licensed pot shops, where the product is tested. He said tests at unlicensed shops showed a pesticide used at golf courses was in the product.

"Why would any of your viewers who wants to use recreational marijuana subject themselves to possibly using a tainted product? The licensed facilities have their product tested. The unlicensed ones don't. The key, for me, is don't patronize an unlicensed shop; you're putting your health and safety at risk."
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