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Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Unintended consequences in LA

November 03 2012
Illegal beer operations emerge from new Skid Row property law

A recent court ruling has prohibited Los Angeles’s law enforcement officers from seizing objects off Skid Row’s sidewalks.

The order has been put in place to protect the destruction and confiscation of homeless people’s temporarily unattended property.

The city has long argued that belongings left on sidewalks constitute a health hazard, but others contest that valuable possessions have been destroyed while their owners were showering or eating in nearby shelters, something they claim was a violation of constitutional rights.

Although many are pleased with the outcome of the federal order, it has caused some to take advantage with a number of homeless vendors illegally selling beer under the cover of the clutter.

Operating in small crews, they are using clusters of shopping carts, wheelchairs and baby strollers to conceal their merchandise and lookouts to watch for police.

The illegal operations are contributing to the overall increased crime rate of the area and adding to the already grim atmosphere. (The number of people sleeping on Skid Row’s streets has increased by 70 per cent since 2010.)

Residents at nearby shelters have complained that those involved are drunk and rude to women. Others have raised concern that the emergence of illegal alcohol vendors is seriously damaging the ability of addicts who are trying to rebuild their lives.