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San Diego City Council committee votes to support ban on residents living or sleeping in vehicles

Posted at 12:50 PM, Apr 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-17 21:07:25-04

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A San Diego City Council committee Wednesday voted in favor of a bill that would place a limited ban on residents who sleep overnight or live in their vehicles.

The council’s Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee voted 3-1, with Council President Pro Tem Barbara Bry (District 1), Councilman Chris Cate (District 6) and Councilwoman Vivian Moreno (District 8) supporting the bill.

The committee’s chair, Councilwoman Monica Montgomery (District 4), opposed the bill.

The proposed bill will now go before the full City Council for a vote.

The bill would ban residents from sleeping in their cars from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. within 500 feet of a school, excluding colleges and universities, or a place of residence.

The bill also states that evidence of living in a vehicle can include using it for sleeping, bathing, preparing meals or having items not normally associated with vehicle use like cookware, bedding or furniture.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer proposed the new ban last month after the city said it received hundreds of complaints about residents living in their vehicles and illegal activity related to vehicle habitation. The City Council repealed a 36-year-old vehicle habitation ban in February amid concerns over its constitutionality. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a similar Los Angeles law in 2014 for being unconstitutionally vague.

"If you are living out of your vehicle because you have nowhere else to go, we want to help you," Faulconer said during the announcement last month. "At the same time, residents and businesses have a right to clean and safe neighborhoods. We will not allow conduct that takes advantage of San Diego's generosity and destroys the quality of life in our communities."

Concurrently, the city is expanding a program that provides parking lots where residents who live in their vehicle can sleep for the night and gain access to services like job training and housing assistance. Faulconer and City Councilman Scott Sherman announced the city's plan Tuesday to open a third such parking lot in Mission Valley within the next 45 days.

City staff said though the bill passed today, they will still make amendments to the draft. It is unclear exactly what changes will be made before the ordinance reaches the San Diego City Council.