Jan 28, 2013 8:56 PM by Cameron Polom, KSBY News

Attorneys for the homeless fire back at council members

We're hearing more from the attorneys in the controversy stemming from the ticketing of the homeless in San Luis Obispo.

In July, lawyers for the homeless sued the city, saying it did not have the proper ordinance to ticket people for sleeping in cars.

The tickets were dismissed in a settlement in August.

The city must now pay more than $130,000 in legal fees to the attorneys.

Last week, however, the city council said it would not give up the right to appeal unless the attorneys donated half of their legal fees to local homeless services.

"In 34 years of practice, I don't think I've ever seen anybody try to impose that kind of condition on a judgment," said attorney for the homeless, Stew Jenkins.

Jenkins says he has no problem donating to help the homeless or any other cause, but he does have a problem with how the city council is going about pushing him to do it.

"Mr. Rizzo and I may want to provide some of these funds for helping the homeless, but that's our decision," said Jenkins.

"It was an honest and sincere offer," said city councilman Dan Carpenter, "we really did want the money that we're spending, taxpayers' money, to go to homeless services, that's where we'd like to see it end up."

"In this type of a public interest case, it's not just the billable hours you put in," said Jenkins, "This kind of case takes over your life and your practice and prevents you from taking on new clients."

And although some in the community like what they're seeing from city leaders, they still can't help but agree with the attorneys.

"Trust me, if I was a council member I would have tried too," said one community member, "and more power to the effort, but unfortunately I don't think I can agree on the fairness."

The San Luis Obispo City Council has 60 days from when the judge's orders are handed down to appeal the decision.



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