As LCCRSF Legal Director, Elisa Della-Piana litigates impact cases, spearheads statewide policy coalitions, and supervises a program staff of fifteen advocates working on immigrant, economic, and racial justice.
Elisa’s current and recent impact cases include: Sanchez v. Caltrans, a class action against state agency Caltrans for the destruction of homeless people’s belongings; Smith v. Reiskin and Coalition on Homelessness v. City and County of San Francisco, challenging the constitutionality of a city towing low-income residents’ vehicles because they cannot afford to pay tickets; Jackson v. City of Oakland, which ended enforcement of a decades-old loitering ordinance used to target Black housing authority residents; and Rubicon v. Solano County Superior Court, the first known lawsuit against a court in California for suspending licenses for failure to pay a traffic citation, and failing to implement ability-to-pay procedures for low-income court users.
Elisa has also helped lead coalition efforts to end abusive fines and fees in California. She has helped conceive, research, and draft reports including Not Just a Ferguson Problem, Stopped, Fined, Arrested, Paying More for Being Poor, and Towed Into Debt. In addition to numerous other policy victories, she is grateful to have worked with incredible coalition and legislative partners to make California the first state to end the suspension of driver’s licenses for failure to pay a traffic ticket, allowing more than 600,000 low-income Californians to get Back on the Road.
Elisa spent seven-plus years with the East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC), where she served as Director of Programs and led EBCLC’s policy work, including helping to draft California bills related to consumer rights, homelessness, fines and fees, and civil rights. She also directed the Neighborhood Justice Clinic in Berkeley, where she supervised the General Legal Clinic, co-founded the Consumer Law Clinic, and led EBCLC’s homeless rights work.
Elisa began her career at LCCRSF as a Bingham McCutcheon Equal Justice Works Fellow and then as a Soros Justice Fellow. During her fellowships, she supported impact litigation, including the successful class action suit Kincaid v. City of Fresno, represented low-income clients, and worked on policy issues and other legal matters through the Homeless Rights Project.
Elisa is a graduate of UC Berkeley Law School. After graduation, she clerked for Judge David F. Levi, Eastern District of California, and Judge Betty B. Fletcher, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.