Malibu City Council Takes Step to Snuff Out Fire Danger Posed by Homeless Encampments

The move will make it easier to enforce Camping

Ordinance ‘within constraints of Martin vs. Boise court ruling’

The Malibu City Council took an important step this week to address the fire danger posed by homeless encampments in Malibu.

At its Monday night’s meeting, the Malibu Council unanimously approved the first reading of an amendment to the Camping Ordinance to make it enforceable by the Sheriff's Department “within the constraints of the Martin vs. Boise court ruling, which has reportedly been an obstacle to enforcing Malibu's ordinance,” officials said.

(The Martin vs. Boise ruling held that cities cannot enforce anti-camping ordinances if they do not have shelter beds for their homeless population.)

Malibu officials said the enforcement amendment provides a “valuable legal tool to prohibit people from living un-housed in areas that pose an extreme fire danger, thereby reducing the chances of a fire start caused by a cooking or warming fire, or other means such as smoking.”

The amendment – designed to ease the community impacts and public safety threats associated with homelessness – will return to the Council for final approval on September 27, said Malibu officials.

The City Attorney and the Malibu-Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station have reportedly given their full support of the amendment and expressed confidence that it would withstand legal challenges

As written, the Camping Ordinance prohibits people from camping on city-owned public property, any vacant or undeveloped private property and in areas deemed a high-risk fire area due to the proximity to the wild-land-urban interface.

However, when there is no immediate threat to the public health, safety, or welfare of the community, the ordinance will not be enforced against individuals based solely upon the fact that they are sitting, lying, or sleeping on City-owned public property when such individuals do not have access to adequate temporary shelter, said city officers. “This exception does not apply to areas that are within 200 feet of a residence or 1,500 feet of a school.”


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