Phoenix Denied Extension On Order To Clean Up The Zone

May 2, 2023

By Corinne Murdock |

Last Friday, the Maricopa County Superior Court denied the city of Phoenix’s motion to extend the deadline imposed to clean up The Zone.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Scott Blaney apparently rejected the city’s insistence that they’d begun taking sufficient action.

“The Court interprets this argument as meaning the injunction is unnecessary because the City is already taking steps to abate the horrible conditions in the Zone,” wrote Blaney. “But the Court issued the Preliminary Injunction based, in part, upon the City’s past failure to address the issues in The Zone, as well as the City’s apparent lack of intent to do so until faced with possible judicial intervention.

In their motion to stay the court’s preliminary injunction, the city said it didn’t dispute the current conditions of the homeless encampments, but opposed the actions they were required to take, namely the court’s suggestion of campgrounds. The city took issue with the required deadline of July 10.

“[D]eciding how to spend taxpayers’ money, deliver services, and create new infrastructure for public housing is a legislative, not judicial function,” stated the city. “[T]he order intrudes into local law enforcement and prosecutorial discretion in what appears to be an order to take mandatory enforcement action — ignoring any analysis of the facts on the ground and ordering sweeping relief in its stead.”

The city further claimed that Blaney violated the constitutional separation of powers. It also seemed to question the judge’s description of homeless individuals’ conduct as a “nuisance.” Blaney’s ruling outlined the many ways that The Zone qualified as a public nuisance. The city said it couldn’t guarantee cleaning up The Zone. 

“While the City seeks to maintain a clean and crime-free environment for its residents, those are outcomes that the City simply cannot guarantee, even with the expenditure of significant resources,” stated the city.

The city also claimed that Blaney’s order didn’t reflect public interest or the true desires of the Phoenix community. That contradicts the numerous business owners and residents of The Zone and elsewhere in the city that have complained about the homeless crisis.

“The City’s policies are the product of community meetings with policymakers, the gathering of information from all relevant stakeholders, and the advice of experts at the City and throughout the community,” wrote the city. “To circumvent this process and supplant the City’s plans with the Court’s own judgment is against public interest.”

The homeless crisis spiraled following the election of Mayor Kate Gallego, a Democrat, in 2019.

The Maricopa County Superior Court ruled in late March that the city of Phoenix was at fault for the current state of The Zone, and imposed a cleanup deadline this summer. The ruling came days after city officials promised to meet to discuss solutions for The Zone, in the wake of back-to-back murders.

Details of a settlement in a separate, federal case haven’t been publicized yet. 

Democratic leadership has generally downplayed the urgency of the public nuisances and dangers presented by The Zone. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to

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