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LA moves closer to banning people from sleeping in cars

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Homeless advocates say the ban would criminalize homelessness

While the approval this week of Measure HHH marked a huge step forward in LA’s ongoing battle with homelessness, the city is pursuing one controversial method previously struck down by a federal judge for reigning in its homeless population.

The Los Angeles City Council this week voted 11-1 in favor of a temporary ordinance that would ban people from sleeping overnight in vehicles parked in residential areas, according to the Daily Breeze. If passed into law, the ordinance will be revisited by the City Council in July 2018 after a thorough study of the law's impacts.

Under the ordinance, it would be illegal to sleep in a car or RV parked in a residentially zoned area from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. An all-day ban would apply to areas within one block of a park, day care, or school. People would still be able to sleep overnight in vehicles parked in commercially or industrially zoned areas.

Citations for violating the ban would cost from $25 to $75. That's a small fortune for those living without means.

The Daily Breeze says homeless advocates are concerned the ordinance would, at best, be an undue hardship on the already overburdened homeless population. At worst, they fear it would contribute to the criminalization of homelessness.

In addition, advocates anticipate more legal drama similar to the lawsuits that put a halt on police seizing property from homeless people.

Some small solace can be taken in the fact that the ban would be temporary. The City Council would spend the 18 months it's in effect brainstorming a new policy for those living in cars.

The ordinance was opposed by council members Joe Buscaino and Nury Martinez, who represent districts largely zoned for industry and commercial, and according to the Daily Breeze, they’re worried about a migration of homeless to their district.

Buscaino cast the sole dissenting vote against the ordinance, saying he would prefer a plan in which neighborhoods "opt in" to allow people to live in cars.

The Los Angeles Times says the measure needs Mayor Eric Garcetti's signature before it can become law.