Press Releases Apr 11, 2016

BB&K Partner Successfully Testifies About Homeless Bill

Marco Martinez Appeared Before California Senate Committee on SB 876

For Immediate Release: April 11, 2016
Media Contact: Denise Nix • 213.787.2552 • denise.nix@bbklaw.com

SACRAMENTO – Best Best & Krieger LLP Partner Marco A. Martinez was among those city officials who successfully argued at a Senate Committee hearing against a bill that would hinder California cities’ efforts to address homelessness. Following the March 29 hearing before the Senate Business and Transportation Committee in Sacramento, the Committee voted 7-2 against SB 876 — thus holding the bill from advancing this term.

Martinez, who serves as city attorney to the City of Azusa and assistant city attorney to the City of Colton and is on the League of California Cities’ City Attorney Homelessness Task Force, was asked to testify and provide a legal perspective concerning the impacts of SB 876. Sen. Carol Liu (D – La Canada Flintridge) introduced the legislation, which would have prohibited cities from enforcing ordinances that allow law enforcement to cite or arrest people for eating, resting, camping and practicing their religion in California's public spaces and private property.

In his remarks, Martinez discussed how cities like Azusa, Colton and others have already invested significant resources to assist the homeless. This includes specially trained police officers who can get people the services they need. The proposed law, Martinez said, does not help cities address homeless issues.

“Instead, this bill grants preferential treatment to one class of residents and converts large swaths of public and private spaces into potential areas for homeless encampments, depriving the vast majority of the general public from using these areas as intended,” Martinez testified.

“More concerning is that SB 876 will expose California cities to lawsuits, court fines and attorney’s fees for honest interpretations of its ambiguous and broad provisions,” Martinez continued. “Its passage increases the likelihood that cities will be dealing with conflicts between the homeless and other citizens over the use of public and private property.” 

At the conclusion of the hearing, senators voted down the bill after expressing concerns about the far-reaching effects Martinez described.

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Best Best & Krieger LLP is a national law firm that focuses on environmental, business, education, municipal and telecommunications law for public agency and private clients. With 200 attorneys, the law firm has nine offices nationwide, including Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego and Washington, D.C. For more information, visit www.bbklaw.com or follow @BBKlaw on Twitter.

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