City Council Repeals Ban on Sleeping in Cars

by on February 11, 2019 · 0 comments

in Ocean Beach, San Diego

On Tuesday, February 6, the San Diego City Council voted unanimously to repeal a1983 law that banned people from living inside their vehicles.

The Council vote is partially a response to recent Federal court decisions. There’s the 2014 ruling by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which struck down a similar ordinance in Los Angeles as unconstitutionally vague.

And then there’s the ruling 6 months ago by U.S. District Judge Anthony Battaglia here in the Southern District of California that ordered the City to stop ticketing people under the law, also stating it was unconstitutional because it’s too vague for enforcement.

Battaglia – in his ruling – stated the law doesn’t indicate specifically what turns a vehicle into a person’s home or “living quarters,” He commented  people have gotten tickets under the law for reading a book inside their vehicle. Battaglia’s injunction was the result of a lawsuit filed on behalf of disabled homeless people who prefer to live in vehicles because they don’t function well in traditional homeless shelters.

Homeless advocates applauded the City Council decision and say they hope it’s a sign of San Diego ending its criminalization of homelessness.

During the city’s most recent homeless count, volunteers found more than 800 people living in cars while canvassing San Diego.

Several City councilmembers made comments after the vote to the media.

Councilman Chris Ward stated: “It’s in line with a number of other policy objectives we’ve been trying to move through our legislative pipeline.” He referred to other efforts the City has done for homelessness, the safe parking lots, storage facilities and temporary shelters. The City needs to do more, he said, but allowing people live in their cars is a reasonable stopgap measure.

“I do have a problem with people living in their cars – it’s not right. It’s dangerous. Individuals are exposed to crime and are exposed to hardships. We need to do better.”

“Nobody wants to see people relegated to living in their cars, on the streets, away from services. We have the capacity and the ability to do more for individuals experiencing homelessness … It’s not real housing. We need to bring this full circle and work on more housing opportunities.”

Councilman Mark Kersey called it the lesser of two evils.

“It’s certainly not a permanent solution to the crisis that we are facing. But 100% of the time, I’d rather have someone sleeping in a car than on the sidewalk.”

The 1983 law has outlived its usefulness, Kersey said.

LA Times


{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Older Article:

Newer Article: