City of Phoenix to comply with court order to clear the Zone

Oct 20, 2023, 3:22 PM

Charles Sanders, 59, sits in his tent inside a homeless encampment called "The Zone," Friday, July ...

PHOENIX — The City of Phoenix intends to comply with a court order and will complete the final steps to meet a deadline to permanently clear all tents and other makeshift structures known as the Zone on the edge of downtown.

The court-ordered deadline is Nov. 4.

The city was handed a defeat in court Oct. 3 when it sought additional time to clean up the camp. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Scott Blaney issued the initial ruling on Sept. 20. The city had applied for a stay pending a second appeal.

The Zone refers to the area surrounding the Human Services Campus (HCS) located at 12th Avenue and Madison Street.

The city said it was addressing the twelfth block on Friday. With that completion, there would be three blocks remaining before the impending deadline in two-plus weeks. The clearing-out process began May 10. Here’s a brief recap of what needs to be cleared by Nov. 4:

  • 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.

In a partnership with A New Leaf, the city announced the opening of a new 100-room shelter that will begin opening in phases. However, no timetable for those phases was given. Meanwhile, in the coming weeks, Phoenix plans to temporarily add a 60-room shelter and begin the phased opening of the Safe Outdoor Space.

In summer 2022, as many as 1,000 people lived in the area around the HCS as the size erupted during the pandemic.

In 2019, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled homeless people cannot be criminalized for sleeping outside if no reasonable alternative exists.

A hearing is scheduled for Nov. 30 for the city to show it has complied with the September court order.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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City of Phoenix to comply with court order to clear the Zone