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LA Council Reinstates Ban Restricting Vehicle Dwelling
1900 Pico Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90405
By Jorge Casuso
July 31, 2019 -- After a one-month hiatus, it is once again illegal to live in vehicles on the residential streets of Los Angeles.
The LA City Council on Tuesday voted 13-0 to reinstate the ban that had expired June 30 before the Council went on recess.
The law prohibits individuals from using a vehicle for dwelling between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. on residential streets and within 500 feet of schools, daycare centers and parks at all hours.
The Council reinstated the law over the vocal protests of dozens of homeless individuals and their advocates, who testified before a vote was cast without discussion. Protesters chanted "Shame" after the vote, forcing the meeting to be temporarily shut down.
Councilmember Mike Bonin, whose district includes Venice, said in a statement issued by his office Tuesday that he would have voted against the ban if he had been present.
“We need to be moving people out of homelessness -- not into homelessness," Bonin said, adding that he had missed the meeting due to medical reasons.
"If we tell people with no homes that they cannot live in their cars, they are going to wind up on the sidewalks in our neighborhoods, and get locked further into homelessness, becoming harder and more costly to help.
"It will set us back even further in combating homelessness,” he said.
According to LA County homeless census conducted in January, there were 36,300 homeless persons living within the City of LA, a 16 percent increase over last year.
Of those, more than 9,500 were living in cars, vans, or RVs.
The City's designated safe parking areas can accommodate fewer than 200 vehicles per night, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA).
Bonin noted that when the Council approved the measure several years ago it was intended to be temporary while a parking program was crafted.
"We have repeatedly extended the sunset while the city and LAHSA have lagged in creating safe parking for the thousands of people living in their cars,” Bonin said.
He called for "a dramatic expansion of safe parking at city-owned lots, and an urgent appeal to faith communities, nonprofits and businesses to offer space in their lots.”
LA Municipal Code 85.02, which prohibits vehicle dwelling on residential streets, provides a list of 21 maps showing streets where the homeless can sleep in their vehicles overnight.
But critics say the maps have not been updated.
An analysis LAHSA's homeless census by city and community by the Lookout found that the Westside saw a 20 percent rise in homelessness ("Westside Homeless Population Sees Dramatic Jump, Venice Tops List," July 30, 2019).
Of the 3,181 homeless persons counted this year in the 16 Westside cities and communities, 1,409 lived in vehicles, up from 1,207 last year.
Venice, which is in Bonin's District 11, topped the list with 1,128 homeless persons. Of those,458 lived in their cars, up from 269 last year.
“We can sleep in ditches but we cannot sleep in our cars," Jose Garcia, a veteran who was homeless for five years, told the Council Tuesday night, according to media reports.
"There has to be a way that we can all work together," he said.
Those cited for violating the ban face a $25 fine for the first violation, $50 for a second and $75 for each subsequent violation.
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