Federal Judge Puts a Temporary Hold on San Diego Police Ticketing Homeless People Living in Their Vehicles

by on August 27, 2018 · 3 comments

in Homelessness, Ocean Beach

A federal judge last week ordered San Diego police to temporarily stop ticketing homeless people living in their vehicles. Sitting in San Diego, U.S. District Judge Anthony Battaglia issued the injunction until he makes a final ruling in a case brought to court by a class-action suit by a group of disabled homeless people living in recreational vehicles.

They filed the suit last year against the law, which they claim is discriminatory, with the help of the Disability Rights California and The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty.

In his order issued August 21, Battaglia called the city ordinance that prohibits people for living inside vehicles too vague for effective enforcement, and indicated he will probably rule in favor of the homeless plaintiffs. He stated in his order:

“The court finds plaintiffs have shown a likelihood of success on the merits of their claim that the ordinance is vague because it fails to alert the public what behavior is lawful and what behavior is prohibited.”

According to a report from San Diego Union-Tribune

“[Battaglia] said the vehicle habitation law doesn’t indicate specifically what turns a vehicle into a person’s home or “living quarters,” noting that people have gotten tickets under the law for reading a book inside their vehicle.

Before the lawsuit was filed last November, San Diego officials and lawyers for the homeless people discussed potential changes in enforcement that would allow homeless people to park their recreational vehicles somewhere legally.

This week’s injunction could allow the two sides to revisit those discussions and come up with a solution.

The temporary injunction also prohibits the city of San Diego from impounding vehicles under the questioned law. The federal judge ordered the city to respond within 30 days in how the city is complying with his order.

The class-action suit claimed the laws illegally prohibit disabled homeless people from living and sleeping in recreational vehicles parked overnight on city streets.

Battaglia did, however, state that a different city law that prohibits overnight parking of RVs and oversized vehicles did appear to be sound legally. Enacted in 2014, the overnight parking ordinance prohibits such vehicles from parking on any San Diego city street or in any public parking lot between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. The judge did not block that ordinance, and stated:

“While the court sympathizes that this ordinance leaves plaintiffs with nowhere to park between these hours and is decidedly unfair, the law is not ambiguous, unclear or vague in any way.”

Doing good research, local TV station, NBC 7 conducted an investigation into citations given for vehicle habitation and found there were 281 people ticketed in 2016 compared to 295 citations issued in 2017. (See their map)



{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

sealintheSelkirks September 6, 2018 at 1:11 pm

A capitalist society’s throw-aways that…have no place to go, no place to live, no place they are wanted or valued. They’ve managed to scrap together enough to at least have a roof over their head…then the corporate state ‘impounds’ it, takes their last chance away because they live in it and leaves them in even worse conditions; on the street in rags with nothing. And then puts them in jail for vagrancy.

Why do we call ourselves ‘human’ when we show no human-ity?

Better to be out of sight out of mind, eh San Diego? Maybe they should just…go to the centers set up for people like this. You know, the factories that make Soylent Green? Oh wait, that hasn’t happened yet.

I remember all the stories from my Granny K about living through the 1930s and all this sure does sound familiar… Seems as if people certainly do repeat history over and over because they are unable to remember any, much less learn the lessons it taught their ancestors.



Ryker Schenck February 4, 2019 at 10:36 am

What’s the Case Name and No.?


Bradley S Lord November 6, 2019 at 3:40 pm

Cops arresting people impounding vehicles and intimidating people both in cars and in beach chairs at Bahia Hotel. Total harassment of people doing nothing to deserve it. People you must file complaints so this police behavior must be stopped!!!


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