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City weighs major restrictions on living in cars as new lot announced

Posted at 4:58 PM, Apr 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-16 19:58:47-04

San Diego is weighing major new rules that would ban people from living in their cars near schools and homes.

The proposal would block anyone from living in their cars within 500 feet of a school or residence, and also prohibit them from living in their cars on most other city streets between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.

San Diegans living in their cars have had free reign since a judge ruled in August that its current laws were too vague. That's led to concerns from some residents in beach areas, who say they have seen people drinking in cars, as well as urinating and defecating on neighborhood streets.

"I used to feel very safe walking around throughout La Jolla, Pacific Beach and everything, and there's a lot of times I don't feel as safe as I used to," said Sarah Bonesteel, a Crown Point resident.

The issue of in-car living has grown along with San Diego's high housing costs.

The car is one of the last pieces of shelter a homeless person may possess, Mayor Kevin Faulconer noted Tuesday. At a news conference, the mayor announced that the city would open an additional parking lot for people to legally sleep in their cars. It will be in the overflow lot across from SDCCU Stadium, providing access to housing and other services.

"The goal for every person or family staying here will be to access resources to get back into long-term housing," Faulconer said.

Meanwhile, the city's Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee will consider the citywide restrictions Wednesday.

Ann Menasche, a senior attorney with Disability Rights California, called the proposed rules draconian and said the fault is with the city.

"They created the crisis by the policies of the city, and now they want to blame the victims of the crisis for the crisis itself," she said. "This is going nowhere."
The new parking lot for sleeping overnight should open in about 45 days.