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Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Beach bums

May 23 2009
The ACLU accuses Laguna Beach of harassing the chi-chi resort‘s homeless people An exclusive coastal town in California, USA, has been hit with a lawsuit for allegedly hounding its homeless residents. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a federal lawsuit against Laguna Beach in December 2008 and accused its leadership of engaging in a campaign of harassment to drive out the town's homeless people, which last year stood at fewer than 100. Mark Rosenbaum, legal director for California-based ACLU, said this level of homelessness was "manageable". He said: "There are even more art galleries than homeless residents, yet city leaders have chosen to attempt to eliminate the homeless rather than homelessness." Assistant city manager John Pietig rebutted the claim, highlighting the fact that the city council recently considered revising the 1950s ordinance that bans street sleeping, but postponed the matter for further review. "We're a very tolerant community." The event has brought to light a case in the UK from 2007, in which Westminster City Council called for a ban on the distribution of free food on public land (see The Pavement, London edition, issues 26 & 27). The application did not, but potentially could have, signalled the end of soup runs for the capital's homeless, as well as reduced the places for them to go.