Judge Orders Phoenix to Remove Large Homeless Encampment Known as ‘The Zone’

Judge Orders Phoenix to Permanently Clear 'The Zone' by Nov. 4

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - JULY 21: An aerial view of people gathered near a homeless encampment in the afternoon heat on July 21, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

By Associated Press

March 28, 2023

About 700 people have lived in “The Zone” in recent months.

A judge has ordered Phoenix to clean up a homeless encampment that spans nearly 10 blocks in the city’s downtown area.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Scott Blaney ruled Monday that Phoenix is maintaining a “public nuisance” and city officials must show evidence at a July 10 hearing that they’re cleaning the area.

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Blaney sided with downtown Phoenix business owners who sued the city over the homeless camp known as “The Zone” where about 700 people have lived in recent months.

The business owners cite an increase in crime, drug usage in public, biohazards, and break-ins.

According to the lawsuit, the city should have no tents within public property and biohazards that include drugs, trash, and human waste should be picked up.

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Attorneys for the business owners said Phoenix has allowed homeless people to set up permanent tent encampments on public sidewalks and decreased enforcement of loitering, drunken and disorderly conduct, and drug use among other things.

Kristin Couturier, a city spokesperson, said officials were reviewing the court ruling.

“We remain committed to address the needs of all residents and property owners,” Couturier said in a statement Monday. “We continue to work with local and regional partners to address the complex issues surrounding those experiencing homelessness and to connect people in need with safe, indoor spaces and resources to help end their homelessness.”

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