Friday, July 13, 2012

Court Temporarily Enjoins Philadelphia's Ban On Food Program In Parks

Yesterday, a Pennsylvania federal district judge issued a temporary injunction against enforcement of Philadelphia's new ordinance that bans public feeding of groups of more than 3 people in any city park.  The ordinance is part of the city's efforts to close down an established program by Philadelphia churches to feed the homeless in city parks, and move the food program to indoor facilities.  As an interim measure, the program would be moved to an area outside city hall. (See prior posting.) According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, yesterday's ruling in Chosen 300 Ministries, Inc. v. City of Philadelphia, (ED PA, July 12, 2012), did not focus on the constitutional objections that had been raised by plaintiffs, but instead on the fact that there had been little evidence that the City Hall site was preferable. In his ruling from the bench-- to be followed by a formal written opinion-- Judge William H. Yohn, Jr. said:
It seems to me that . . . the parks provide more dignity than the concrete apron outside City Hall. It doesn't strike me that City Hall is an acceptable option.
Judge Yohn said he was inclined to leave the temporary injunction in place for a year to give the city and homeless advocates time to work out an alternative arrangement.