H-SAN LUIS OBISPO

Jan 23, 2013 7:33 PM by Cameron Polom, KSBY News

Lawyers for the homeless say show me the money

San Luis Obispo City Council members want the attorneys who represented the homeless who were ticketed last summer for sleeping in their cars to put their money where their mouth is.

However, the lawyers in the case may not agree with what the council has in mind.

In July, the city of San Luis Obispo faced legal action for ticketing homeless for sleeping in their cars without the proper ordinance.

In August, the city dismissed the tickets in a settlement agreement approved by the city council.

Now, they the city must cough up more than $130,000 in legal fees to the attorney's representing people ticketed.

In a four to one vote, the council says they will not appeal the court's ruling and will pay the $133,000.
But here's the catch, they want the attorney's to donate half of the money to local homeless services.


Including the $133,000, the total cost to the city to settle this lawsuit is now upwards of $270,000.
All of that money comes from the tax payers general fund, used to pay for police, fire fighters and city infrastructure.
However, the city council isn't going to just let this money go, they want half of the attorney's legal fees donated to improving homeless services in the city.
If the attorney's do not agree with those terms, the city can appeal the judgment made by the superior courts, which ordered the legal fees to be paid.

"They're local residents, they're interested in the same things we are," said city council member John Ashbaugh, "Which is to help these people get back on their feet, get away from homelessness, get away from all the situations that led them into this in the first place."

City attorney Christine Dietrick says if they do appeal it could take up to a year before a ruling is made over the money.
Making it even more complicated is the fact that if they lose the appeal, the city will be on the hook for even more legal fees.


We reached out to the attorney's in this case, but they said they will not comment until they have the agreement in writing and have reviewed it in full.

Just to give you a prospective on how that money breaks down, the attorney fees are for 443 hours of work at $300 per hour.

Another $130,000 was paid to a legal firm in Oakland to defend the cities case

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