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LA’s ban on sleeping in vehicles lapses

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It reportedly won’t be enforced until at least the end of the month

It’s estimated that more than 16,500 people live in cars and RVs in the city of Los Angeles.
AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

LA’s law against sleeping in cars on residential streets expired at the end of June, and Los Angeles Police Department officers have been instructed not to cite people until the ordinance is reapproved, NBC reports.

According to the TV station, LAPD Chief Michael Moore sent a memo last week telling officers to hold off on writing tickets for sleeping in cars until the new ordinance is approved by the Los Angeles City Council.

A request to extend the law for for another six months to January 1, 2020 was approved by the City Council in May, but the draft ordinance still needs council approval. The ordinance isn’t scheduled to go before the council until July 30, when the council returns from its summer recess.

Until then, it appears it will not be enforced.

The ban on sleeping in cars went into effect in 2017 and was set to expire in July 2018. But it has been has been incrementally extended since then. The most recent extension, approved in December, was slated to come to an end on July 1.

The law only applies to residential streets, but more and more non-residential streets have been marked off-limits for those living in their cars and RVs—a group estimated to include more than 16,500 people in the most recent homeless count.

The city’s law has drawn fire from homeless advocates who say the monetary fines attached to citations make it even harder Angelenos who are already struggling financially to climb out of homelessness.

Perhaps in response to that criticism, the motion to extend the sunset date of the ordinance until July, authored by Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, notes that the city is in the middle of both an expansion of the Safe Parking program and “a reassessment of the vehicle dwelling policy, its implementation, and potential amendments to improve the policy, including establishing incentives for communities to embrace safe parking in their neighborhoods.”

The motion says the review of the policy hasn’t been completed, and extending the law again would give the council time to “fully reassess the matter.”

The city’s ordinance replaced a similar but stricter law banning living in vehicles everywhere in LA that was struck down in 2014.