Court gives Phoenix 45-day deadline to clean up The Zone homeless encampment

Sep 20, 2023, 4:24 PM | Updated: 6:37 pm

PHOENIX — A judge ruled Wednesday that the city of Phoenix must abate the public nuisance of The Zone homeless encampment near downtown by Nov. 4.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Scott Blaney again sided with business owners and residents, granting them relief and tasking Phoenix with finishing clean up of the encampment in 45 days.

The ruling added that Phoenix has had ample time to clear the area. The city started clearing The Zone May 10.

The Zone refers to the area surrounding the Human Services Campus, a collaboration of partner organizations that provide services to people experiencing homelessness at 12th Avenue and Madison Street.

“The Court therefore finds little merit to any argument that a 45-day deadline does not allow sufficient time for the city to complete the clean-up,” the ruling said.

The city of Phoenix gave KTAR News 92.3 FM the following response to the ruling:

“The City of Phoenix is disappointed with the Court’s ruling. The City is addressing the area around the Human Services Campus strategically, one block at a time to ensure we can offer every individual we engage with shelter. The City is reviewing the Court’s ruling and exploring legal options.”

What does Phoenix have to show in The Zone by the deadline?

A hearing was scheduled for Nov. 30, where Phoenix will have to show it complied with Wednesday’s order.

Phoenix’s plan has been to move people out one block at a time with offers of shelter, clean up whatever is left behind and prevent anyone from settling back into the space.

Here’s what the order says Phoenix has to do by the deadline:

  • No tents and other makeshift structures in the public rights of way.
  • No biohazardous materials, including human feces and urine, drug paraphernalia and other trash.
  • No individuals committing offenses against the public order.

Why is Phoenix cleaning up The Zone?

A March 27 order concluded Phoenix had stopped enforcing certain laws in the area and required the city to lessen the public nuisance.

Blaney found that while the city was following a law against criminalizing public camping, it arbitrarily enforced others despite health and safety risks. Those who filed the lawsuit described having to witness drug activity, lewd acts and other criminal activity in front of their door or steps away from their property.

Like several other major cities, Phoenix has had to balance the concerns of employers and homeowners with respecting the rights of homeless people.

In 2019, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said homeless people can’t be punished for sleeping outside if they have nowhere else to go.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria will open a new location in Surprise this fall. (Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria)...

Chicago pizza chain Lou Malnati’s announces new Surprise location

Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria will open its ninth Valley location this fall. The popular chain plans to open a new location in Surprise.

13 minutes ago

(Facebook File Photo/Phoenix Police Department)...

Man riding motorized scooter dead after being hit by vehicle in downtown Phoenix

A local man riding a motorized scooter died on Friday evening after he was struck by a vehicle in downtown Phoenix.

3 hours ago

Follow @KTAR923...

Lane Park brings bowling, ice curling, more to Old Town Scottsdale

Lane Park, a new upscale entertainment venue in Old Town Scottsdale, is now open. The spaces features games, music, food, drinks and more.

4 hours ago

The Wildcat Fire burning north of the Valley and west of the Bartlett Lake Reservoir. (Inciweb Phot...

Firefighters nearing full containment on Wildcat Fire burning north of Phoenix

Firefighters are nearing full containment on the Wildcat Fire burning north of Phoenix. The fire is 84% contained as of Saturday morning.

8 hours ago

Sewer line piping near the Ocotillo Water Reclamation Facility will be rehabilitated over the next ...

Damon Allred

City of Chandler to begin sewer line rehabilitation along Price Road this summer

Chandler City Council awarded service agreements on Friday that will ensure the rehabilitation of sewer line piping along Price Road.

9 hours ago

Salt River Flats: Phoenix affordable housing development opens...

Serena O'Sullivan

Maricopa County opens Salt River Flats development in south Phoenix

Maricopa County officials celebrated the grand opening of Salt River Flats, which has nearly 200 affordable housing units, on Thursday.

10 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.


Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.


Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

Court gives Phoenix 45-day deadline to clean up The Zone homeless encampment