Santa Barbara Ban on Public Sleeping Upheld

Associated Press

The Supreme Court today rejected a constitutional challenge to a Santa Barbara, Calif., ordinance that bans sleeping in public places.

The court, without comment, refused to hear arguments in behalf of 29 homeless people that the ordinance violates their freedom to travel and equal-protection rights.

The 1979 ordinance, passed after local merchants complained about panhandlers approaching pedestrians outside their stores, bans sleeping on public streets or in public parking lots.

No Sleeping in Parks


It also bans sleeping in public parks and on public beaches from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

A first offense carries a $100 fine.

After 53 homeless people were arrested on charges of unauthorized sleeping, the ordinance was challenged. No trial has been held yet on the charges.

A municipal judge struck down the ordinance as unconstitutionally vague and overly broad, but another court reversed that ruling.


After a California appeal court refused to hear the case last year, Santa Barbara lawyer Dennis P. Flanagan sought help from the nation’s highest court.

Similar to U.S. Law

City Atty. Steven Amerikaner urged the justices to reject the appeal, noting that it was similar to a no-sleeping federal law covering national parks that was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1984.

In another action today, the court refused to free Massachusetts officials from the obligation of providing a free residential-school education for a 19-year-old mentally retarded man who functions at a first-grade level. The justices, without comment, let stand an order that state officials say requires them to go too far in accommodating the special needs of handicapped students.


The state officials were ordered to live up to state laws requiring “maximum possible development” programs for handicapped students.