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Judge Extends Order Barring Sweeps Of Chico Homeless Encampments

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People removing their things at an encampment near Pine and Cypress streets last February.
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Adia White

A federal judge Friday extended a temporary restraining order that bars the city of Chico from sweeping homeless encampments set up on public property.

District Judge Morrison England Jr., extended the order through June 25.

The restraining order had been set to expire June 11, when the next hearing had been set in the case of a group of unhoused people suing over the city’s anticamping laws.

But lawyers for both the city and the unhoused plaintiffs asked the judge for more time to reach a possible resolution in the case.

According to documents filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, the lawyers told the judge they’ve been exchanging settlement proposals and could use additional time to discuss the matter before reappearing in court.

The attorneys said the discussions could “alleviate” the need for a hearing for a preliminary injunction sought by the plaintiffs.

Details of a possible resolution were not disclosed.

An update on the discussions is expected by June 18.

The extension of the restraining order comes after a statewide antipoverty organization threw its support behind the group of unhoused plaintiffs, named in court documents as Bobby Warren, Andy Lambach, Jonathon Williams, Michael Samuelson, Tracy Miller, Tona Petersen, Carol Beth Thompson and Christa Stevens.

The organization, Western Center on Law & Poverty (WCLP), gave notice to the court last week it will serve as co-counsel with Legal Services of Northern California.

Alexander Prieto, a senior litigator with WCLP, told NSPR the issues raised in the local case are not limited to Chico.

“It is sadly all too common for cities to adopt ordinances that punish people for living outside when they have no other choice,” Prieto said, “rather than provide necessary shelter and services.”

The next hearing in the case of Warren et al., v. City of Chico et al., 2:21-cv-00640-MCE-DMC, is scheduled for 10 a.m. June 25.