Council Members Extend Temporary Policy on Living in Vehicles

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A law that regulates where people are allowed to live in their vehicles in Los Angeles is set to expire, but a City Council committee voted today to extend it by six months as officials work to improve the regulations. 

It was illegal for decades to live in a vehicle in the city until a 2014 federal court ruling struck down the ban. The City Council then drafted a law that made it illegal to live in a vehicle in residential neighborhoods or near sensitive locations such as parks and schools. The council voted in June to extend the law by six months, and officials said at the time they were looking for ways to improve it, but that action is set to expire in January, so the Homelessness and Poverty Committee scheduled the issue again, with two members of the committee recommending that it be extended again by six months. 

The committee's chair, Marqueece Harris-Dawson, said details of a new policy are still being worked out.``Lots of members have lots of additions they want to make, and a lot of those things are under consideration at this time, and we just weren't finished considering it and we had to do the extension,'' Harris-Dawson told City News Service. 

The committee only had two of its four members present, which does not constitute a quorum, so the recommendation was not an official act of the committee but rather a ``communication'' to the council by Harris-Dawson and Councilman Mike Bonin. 

Bonin, whose district includes Venice, where a large number of homeless people live, did not speak during the committee meeting about the extension, but six months ago he expressed frustration at the ``essentially unenforceable'' law while supporting its extension.``This is just an incredibly frustrating and really stupid situation. It's through the looking glass. It's a policy designed by the Mad Hatter,'' Bonin said at the time. 

Bonin said problems with the law include the difficulty for police to prove that someone is living in their vehicle. He also said vehicle dwelling should be preferable to sleeping on the sidewalk -- which is legal to do overnight. 

The Homelessness and Poverty Committee ignored the pleas six months ago of some homeless advocates who asked the city to allow the law to expire because they believed it unnecessarily criminalizes homelessness, but no public speakers signed up to talk about the extension this time.

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