Living in a Vehicle
JURIST - Academic Commentary, June 26, 2014
4 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2015
Date Written: 2014
Nothing offends constitutional sensibilities quite like a local ordinance that sets police against poor people as a way of cleaning-up litter. Yet Section 85.02 [PDF]of the Los Angeles Municipal Code, which was enacted in 1983 and prohibits the use of a vehicle for living quarters, was lifted out of obscurity in 2010, years after having been enacted but not enforced, for the express purpose of responding to "the illegal dumping of trash and human waste on city streets that was endangering public health." Note that the dumping was already illegal. The litter ordinance or even the disorderly conduct ordinance, if necessary, could have been invoked against that behavior. But the city dredged up this old anti-homeless law because neighbors claimed that it was homeless folks who were dumping the trash and waste. And after enough homeless people were ticketed and jailed under the ordinance, they brought a lawsuit against the city. This article is about the Ninth Circuit’s artful handling of the appeal in that case.
Keywords: homeless, poverty, police, ACLU, criminalization of homelessness, vehicles, cars, litter, due process, vagueness, Fourteenth Amendment
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation