A federal judge on Wednesday refused to extend his injunction barring the city of Sacramento from clearing homeless camps.
Advocates for homeless residents had asked U.S. District Judge Troy L. Nunley to extend his injunction through the third week of September because of concerns about high temperatures, but Nunley ruled that “a further preliminary injunction prohibiting the clearing of all homeless encampments in Sacramento would be overly broad.”
“In addition, the court is persuaded by the city’s arguments about recent steps it has taken to mitigate the danger to unhoused individuals,” the judge wrote in a five-page order issued Wednesday afternoon. “For example, the city provides evidence demonstrating that it set up canopies or pop-ups over the tents at Miller Park.
“Plaintiffs fail to address the city’s mitigation efforts in their reply.”
Nunley added that he “recognizes this case raises difficult issues and encourages the parties to work towards a resolution of this matter.”
The Sacramento Homeless Union sought the extension after succeeding in winning an order from Nunley in early August that barred the city from clearing camps because of a heat wave then hitting the city. The judge subsequently extended the ban through Aug. 31.
But the homeless union, which won a similar order in the summer of 2022, failed to persuade the judge to extend his order further, and Nunley wrote that the union had made “broad assertions about the harms to unhoused individuals generally.”
“Plaintiffs also fail to demonstrate that all unhoused individuals are similarly situated,” the judge added.
Homeless Union attorney Anthony Prince said he was disappointed but not surprised by the order, and added that he felt the judge incorrectly interpreted some case law in making his decision.
“Even though we’re disappointed and we think that Judge Nunley made some legal errors in this order, we are happy and we are grateful to Judge Nunley for the (temporary restraining order) and then the extension during some of the worst heat we’re expecting in Sacramento this summer,” he said. “We know that those orders did prevent the city of Sacramento from moving people into more dangerous areas.”
Prince added that the union would continue to fight to protect homeless residents, especially as winter approaches.
“The city’s going to have to step it up,” Prince said. “These are residents, they’re taxpayers.”
A city spokesman did not immediately reply to a request for comment. The city has appealed Nunley’s previous orders to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The dispute over homeless camps has spilled over into a bitter fight between city officials and Sacramento District Attorney Thien Ho, who demanded last month as the injunction was in place that city leaders do more to address the homeless crisis.
Ho gave the city a 30-day deadline to take action on a series of actions he wanted completed, and he has said he was considering civil or criminal action against city officials if more is not done to deal with homeless camps.
That deadline passed last week, and no such action has been taken yet. The city replied to his demands in a letter last week that essentially said the city is doing plenty and that Ho’s office should be doing more to assist.