Striking down the ban allows homeless people to sleep in their vehicle
LOS ANGELES—The Ninth Circuit Court announced its opinion on June 19 on the municipal ban that prevents homeless people from living in their car. The court declared that the law is unconstitutional.
The plaintiff in the case argued that the code is vague and could criminalize innocent behaviors. The plaintiff also argued that the code lacks standards to limit discretion in enforcing the law.
In the concluding statement of the opinion by the Ninth Circuit Court, “Section 85.02 (the municipal code) provides inadequate notice of the unlawful conduct it proscribes, and opens the door to discriminatory enforcement against the homeless and the poor.”
In addition, the court added that the law is vague and violated the due process clause of the 14th amendment. The court insisted in its opinion that for many the car could be their last major possession. The car could be used as transportation to get a job or access to social services.
The court added, “Selectively preventing the homeless and the poor from using their vehicles for activities many other citizens also conduct in their cars should not be one of those options.”
Mike Feuer, Los Angeles City Attorney, said in a statement that he would not appeal the ruling of the court, but will work with the city official to create a new ordinance "that respects both the rights and needs of homeless individuals and protects the quality of life in our neighborhoods."
The municipal code was enacted in 1983. However, in September 2010, the law was brought to attention. People were having many complaints regarding homelessness. As a result, city officials held a “Town Hall on Homelessness” to address the homeless people living in their vehicles.
Throughout the meeting, the city officials repeated that their concern was not homelessness, but the dumping of the trash and human waste on the streets which was dangerous for the residents of the city. As a result, a recommitment to the municipal code was enacted in 2010, banning homeless individuals from living in their vehicles.