ACLU gets partial victory in suit alleging Laguna Beach discriminates against its disabled homeless – Orange County Register

LAGUNA BEACH  Attorneys are calling a ruling by a U.S. District Court judge a partial win in their lawsuit, which claims the city discriminates against homeless people with disabilities and that portions of its homeless program violate federal laws.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Guilford ruled Monday that the van used by the city of Laguna Beach to transport homeless from the downtown area to its permanent shelter, the Alternative Sleeping Location in Laguna Canyon, violates their rights with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act.

The van violates federal standards because it has no ramps and lifts and therefore could make transport difficult for those with physical or mental limitations, the judge said.

The ruling was one of several in recent days regarding the lawsuit filed by the ACLU Foundation of Southern California and the law firm of Paul Hastings. A trial is scheduled for Aug. 1 to determine other points in the case.

“We are confident the federal judge hearing this case will agree that Laguna Beach’s homelessness program discriminates against individuals with disabilities who are experiencing homelessness and that systemic change is long overdue,” said David Hernand, an attorney with Paul Hastings.

Laguna Beach City Attorney Phil Kohn said Wednesday that the city is evaluating Guilford’s rulings. He said the city is in the process of getting a new van that includes a ramp and lift.

“People that haven’t been able to get into the van have been placed in it,” Kohn said. “No one has not been taken on the van to the Alternative Sleeping Location because of this.”

Guilford also ruled that other issues — including whether Laguna Beach will be obligated to fund, construct and operate apartment housing for homeless who suffer a disability — can be ruled on in a class action and will be heard in during the August trial.

Kohn said that the judge’s ruling lumping all the plaintiffs into a class action is a benefit to…

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