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Judge lets stand L.A. ban on homeless RV parking — because the city isn’t enforcing it

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 law that prohibits people from parking recreational vehicles overnight in some locations has sidestepped a constitutional challenge, for now, after Los Angeles city officials told a federal judge the law is not being enforced.

While not addressing the constitutional issues, U.S. District Judge David O. Carter declined to issue a preliminary injunction against the law as long as the moratorium remains in effect.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of a class represented by a woman who lives in an RV in Venice, contends that a 1986 law allowing the city to designate streets where large vehicles cannot be parked overnight violates homeless people’s rights under the 8th and 14th amendments to the Constitution.

The city countered with a January memorandum in which Los Angeles Department of Transportation general manager Seleta J. Reynolds said that “LADOT will not impound or tow a vehicle that is occupied” and that, even when an occupant is not present, parking enforcement officers must “make a dwelling assessment” to determine if it is being used as a dwelling.

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.

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After suspending the ticketing and towing of oversize vehicles as part of its coronavirus response, the City Council resumed enforcement in October but made an exception for occupied vehicles, the memo said.

Stephen Yagman, the civil rights attorney who filed the lawsuit, said he did not see the ruling as a defeat because it leaves the case open should the city resume enforcement of the law.

Yagman said Thursday that he had filed an amended complaint alleging that the city is committing fraud by posting parking restrictions that are not enforced.

He also has filed a motion asking Carter to order the city to remove the no-parking signs as long as the law is not being enforced and to provide him 60-day notice before resuming enforcement.

Yagman called it “deceitful and sleazy” that the city continues to post parking restrictions “while concealing the fact that they were not enforcing the no parking signs.”

He said he may hire college students to distribute fliers informing homeless people that the parking restrictions are not in force.


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