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Disgraced attorney returns to sue city over restrictions on RV parking

Campers are parked along West Jefferson Boulevard in Los Angeles.
Campers are parked along West Jefferson Boulevard in Los Angeles in June.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

A class-action lawsuit filed in federal court Monday alleges that parking restrictions being imposed by the city of Los Angeles violate the civil rights of people who live in recreational vehicles because they have no other place to live.

The lawsuit, filed by civil rights attorney Stephen Yagman, seeks $1 million in punitive damages each against Mayor Eric Garcetti, City Council members and other city officials but does not ask for monetary compensation. The class is represented by a Black woman identified as C. Finley who lives in a recreational vehicle in Venice.

Yagman, a civil rights lawyer noted for high-profile cases involving law enforcement, was disbarred in 2010 after being convicted of tax and bankruptcy fraud and money laundering. He was reinstated in May.

Relief for the class — the thousands of people alleged in the lawsuit to live in recreational vehicles in the city — would be the removal of signs being posted to prohibit overnight parking.

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Two years ago, Los Angeles began testing an alternative to homeless shelters called safe parking, giving people living in their cars a secure spot to sleep at night.

A spokesman for Los Angeles City Atty. Mike Feuer said the office would review the complaint and would not comment further.

The lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of a 1986 ordinance that, it alleges, allows council members to direct the Department of Transportation to post signs prohibiting parking of vehicles of more than 84 inches high and 22 feet long from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m.

Yagman said the law had not been used until the past two years, and that now signs are being posted around the city, especially in Venice where he lives.

“They’ve been working furiously to put them in for the last month,” Yagman said in an interview. “They’re trying to make it so anyone who lives in their vehicle can’t live there.”

The lawsuit also alleges that the restrictions violate the rights of homeless people under the 8th and 14th amendments to the Constitution by imposing penalties for “merely being on, including sitting, sleeping, lying, or parking vehicles on public property for homeless individuals who cannot obtain permanent shelter. “

It also alleges the city’s actions violate the RICO Act, the federal racketeering law, and represent government-sanctioned eugenics “to alter, by government edict —here a parking ordinance, a specific population that is disfavored by society and by government.”


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