Los Angeles residents living in their vehicles will have to deal with regulations for just a bit longer. The law which restricted such arrangements, originally set to expire on July 1, has been extended by six months by the City Council Homelessness and Poverty Committee while officials iron out future regulations.
Under Los Angeles Municipal Code 85.02, overnight vehicle dwelling is allowed in non-residential areas, at least one block away from any schools, preschools, daycare facilities, or parks. Any vehicles being used for that purpose must comply with all parking regulations as well, and must be legally drivable and intact.
Although these regulations may seem simple, they became a serious sticking point for some activists. Finding legal areas to park during nighttime proved difficult, such that the city released maps informing residents where they could sleep. Dawn Hicks of Venice Community Housing told the committee on Wednesday that despite the maps, the law effectively criminalizes homelessness.
”It seems especially punitive to criminalize people sleeping in their cars during nighttime hours when outdoor sleeping is actually allowed,” Hicks said.
Other critics include City Councilman Mike Bonin, who called the law ”unenforceable,” due to the difficulty police face in proving that someone is living in their vehicle. He also echoed Hicks’ comments and told the committee that vehicle dwelling should be preferable to sleeping on the sidewalk, which is legal overnight.
”This is just an incredibly frustrating and really stupid situation,” Bonin said. “It’s through the looking glass. It’s a policy designed by the Mad Hatter.”
The committee asked for a number of reports from city departments aimed at improving the law, including recommendations from the police department.
City News Service contributed to this story.