California Cities Continue to Criminalize Homelessness with RV Bans

Coastal cities are taking a no-tolerance approach to RVs on their streets, even as they otherwise strive to mitigate and prevent homelessness.

2 minute read

August 7, 2017, 11:00 AM PDT

By Elana Eden

Homeless Bans

haymarketrebel / Flickr

Although policies aimed at punishing or pushing out homelessness have long been decried by advocates, many cities are still—or even increasingly—pursuing them, according to journalist Kate Wheeling. In Pacific Standard, Wheeling highlights the problem as it manifests in Santa Barbara, California—where more than one-third of homeless residents live in RVs, and where "decades of cat-and-mouse games with city officials have made it nearly impossible for RV dwellers to find a place to park their homes."

Many cities justify RV bans with the untested assumption that parked RVs will lead to accidents by blocking drivers' line of sight. But some, including Santa Cruz and Los Angeles, have seen their bans overturned by lawsuits or by the state Coastal Commission for specifically targeting homeless people. Of Santa Barbara's ban, for example, Wheeling writes:

In the fall of 2016, a fed-up city council took more comprehensive action, voting unanimously to pass an ordinance banning on-street parking citywide for all oversized vehicles more than 25 feet long, 80 inches wide, or 82 inches tall. Unless, of course, that oversized vehicle is a government or utility vehicle, a contractor's pick-up, a commercial delivery truck, or a resident's or tourist's RV with the proper temporary permit. In other words, the new ordinance, which will go into effect in September, may not explicitly or exclusively describe RVs like Linda's, but no one is under any illusions about who the intended target is.

Monday, July 31, 2017 in Pacific Standard

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