City rescinds ban on vehicle-habitation; local leaders ask ‘Now what?’
Published - 02/13/19 - 08:15 AM | 3729 views | 5 5 comments | 57 57 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Peninsulans reacted to the City Council’ s recent unanimous vote to repeal a 1983 ordinance prohibiting residents from living in a vehicle on streets within city limits.

“While I don’t believe anyone should be thrown in jail for sleeping in their car, there must be a better way,” said Denny Knox, executive director of Ocean Beach MainStreet Association. “We are overwhelmed already with groups living in vans and cars at the beach. If the City wants to deem all areas in the city to be campgrounds, we have essentially lost our communities.”

The vehicle habitation ordinance has not been enforced since Aug. 21, 2018 following U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Battaglia’s ruling that the ordinance “was both vague on its face and being arbitrarily and discriminatorily applied.” 

Battaglia granted plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction. That meant RV residents were exempted from being ticketed, or paying fines for outstanding tickets, or having their vehicles impounded.

Point Loma attorney David Dick also sees problems with the implementation – and intent – of the City’s new vehicle-habitation ordinance.

“This does nothing to address the source of the homelessness problem and seems instead to validate homelessness as an acceptable option or lifestyle choice,” he said. “Allowing vehicle habitation allows the homeless problem to disperse and migrate even further away from services and those sorts of interventions that might help alleviate the problem – this seems simply to exacerbate things.”

RV residents, some disabled, previously sued the City to end its policy of ticketing and impounding their vehicles. At issue were two existing City ordinances: (SD Muni. Code § 86.0139(a)0, prohibiting parking an RV anywhere on City streets and lots between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m.; and (SD Muni. Code § 86.0137(f)), prohibiting vehicle habitation.

Disability rights attorney Ann Menasche, representing San Diego RV residents, commented: “People sheltered in their RVs is better than being on the street. Nobody in their right minds would give up an RV for a (homeless) tent shelter… People should be fighting for more affordable housing and more (government) housing subsidies… This is going to be happening to more and more people until we make some real changes.”

“I understand the frustration and problem,” said Point Loma Realtor Robert Tripp Jackson. “But to randomly park throughout neighborhoods is a problem. Where are they going to go to the bathroom and discard their trash? In people’s yards or on the street is likely. Maybe opening up the stadium or Sports Arena parking lot would be an idea, not to interfere with events, but provide outhouses and sinks.”

OBMA’s Knox offered a solution.

“The City must act now and designate certain secure parking lots to be overnight spots for those in need (and provide the necessary sanitation and security) and at the same time not allow anyone to sleep in or out of a car on our public streets, playgrounds, parks, and sidewalks,” she said.

Attorney Dick had one final question about the new vehicle-habitation law. “For those supporting the change, what positive can possibly come from this?”
Comments-icon Post a Comment
Padre Diego
February 14, 2019
Instead of giving away public lands to developer's profits, around currently little utilized parking at trolley stations, let the RV and vehicle crowd use them. The pavement is already laid and by collecting a minimal fee (call it property tax for equity's sake), security could be provided as well as dumpsters for trash mitigation and restrooms to prevent public health issues. Transitional services could be provided and the 'residents' could use the MTS to access new jobs. With the hoped for transit usage increases, and the demand grows for parking by MTS users, the parking can be returned to the commuting public and a fee collected. This will reduce on street parking by the stations and make room for bike and scooter lanes. A win-win!
Gregory G. Campbell
February 13, 2019
City Rescinds Ban On Vehicle Habitation; What Now!

Well here's what now. Get out of your house open your eyes, walk your streets, pickup some trash. Get to know your new RV neighbors and educate them on your community standards. These are people like you! Have a conversation and if the community standards for trash,waste disposal and behavior are not met then you have another conversation with them. This is your job as a community member. If that does not work you can elevate the issues to the next level. This does not mean 911 (in most cases). Police resources are for serous crimes and violent issues do not bother them with your failures to interact with another human being. Take control of your own community, the government is not prepared to handle these issues and we will all suffer for your failures if you call them. You and RV owner have the same rights under the law. One thing RV guys owns his house, the bank still owns yours. Give the same respect you want.

Buffalo Barnes
February 14, 2019
Yes! We pay the City Council big bucks to dump homeless people wherever they can without coming up with any real solutions. Hey! Since the Council also made it legal to park on the lawn in front of your house, why not invite a homeless person to park and live on your lawn?
joe cowan
February 14, 2019
Ok tell ya what go down to dog beach in OB and have a nice chat with them. Watch out for the dogs and there poop, Where hard shoes so the needels won't puncture through. When you get home no matter what don't touch the souls until you wash with bleach. Tell me how that works for ya.
Beteur Dawler
February 13, 2019
Living retirement in an under 26 foot motor home in front of a mansion at the beach suddenly has become a pretty good idea! You can sleep in it, you can park it over night, and you will be given at least 72 hours to move it a few feet away. Since they don't have to move more than a tenth of a mile how about mail delivery? Just hang an address sign on the rig and put up a mailbox!
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