"We will not bend to a legal decision that everyone knows is not appropriate in this city," Councilman Bernard C. Parks said.
Councilwoman Jan Perry, whose district includes much of skid row, led the charge against the deal, along with downtown business and development interests. They argued that rather than helping clean up skid row, the settlement could make conditions worse by drawing more homeless people from the surrounding area.
The council's action not only forestalled a resolution of the dispute with the ACLU, it also was a rare rebuff of the mayor. Since Villaraigosa was elected last year, council members have been more inclined to court his favor than reject his initiatives.
After the vote, Bratton said he remained committed to improving skid row but warned that the collapse of the settlement makes the job more difficult.
"I am disappointed in that if the settlement had been agreed upon, it would have given me tools to immediately move forward. With the lawsuit we have some uncertainty," he said.
The case could take years to be resolved.