A lawsuit was filed Monday, September 25th, against the City of Los Angeles over Mayor Karen Bass’ emergency authority over the homelessness crisis. Fix The City, a non-profit organization advocating for responsible urban planning and governance, filed the lawsuit.

Bass declared a state of emergency on homelessness in December 2022, just after being elected. Homelessness has long been a problem in Los Angeles, with rates rising even higher over the past few years. Bass reworked her declaration in July 2023 to authorize her to confiscate property and use it for temporary housing. The statement also allows the suspension of competitive bidding on contracts that last less than a year and issues orders and directives to end the homelessness crisis.

Fix the City’s lawsuit challenges the mayor’s use of emergency powers. The organization claimed the mayor’s declaration allowed her to “overstep her authority by wielding emergency powers that stretch beyond their intended scope.” Their information continued, “The mayor can unilaterally execute contracts, suspect competitive bidding laws, issue new rules, orders, and regulations that take effect immediately, and commandeer property — all without any due process, any requirement of public hearings or public involvement of any kind including the city’s neighborhood councils.”

Fix the City acknowledged that homelessness is a problem in Los Angeles but asserted that it should be addressed through legal and transparent channels. They cited the 2015 declared shelter crisis as an example of using proper channels to address homelessness. Their statement read, “We take no issue with the declaration of a crisis of homelessness provided that such a declaration does not deprive the public of its rights.”

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This is not the first time Fix the City has been involved in lawsuits against the City of Los Angeles. The organization has a history of filing suits for laws and developments surrounding creating affordable housing and public transportation. Los Angeles has attempted to solve the lack of affordable housing and limited access to public transportation over the past decade. Fix the City has previously filed lawsuits against L.A. City’s mobility plan, L.A.’s Transit Oriented Communities Affordable Housing Incentives, housing developments in Hollywood and Koreatown, and attempted to block updates to L.A.’s Hollywood Community Plan. These developments aim to solve the homelessness emergency and ease traffic congestion in Los Angeles.

Public transportation and homelessness in Los Angeles go hand-in-hand. The City is currently nearly impossible to navigate without a car, making it almost impossible to keep a job without owning a car. Housing prices have skyrocketed within the past few years, and many Los Angeles residents struggle to pay rent and keep up with car payments and maintenance. Access to better and more reliable public transportation would be transformative for the City and its residents. 

Bass’ office has not yet commented on the filing of the lawsuit. According to the Los Angeles Times, Clara Kruger, a mayoral spokesperson, said, “The complaint was just filed, and we will take time to review it.”