Los Angeles extends rules against sleeping in vehicles

The Los Angeles City Council unanimously voted to extend a temporary set of rules Tuesday that prohibit people from sleeping overnight in cars, RVs, and other vehicles.

The policy directly affects the nearly 9,000 homeless residents who live in cars, trucks, and camper vans across the city of Los Angeles. Its prohibitions primarily apply to residential areas and parking spots near schools and parks, leaving streets in industrial and commercial areas clear for use by people living in vehicles—at least in theory.

Since the ban went into effect last year, the City Council has added hundreds of streets to the list of places where spending the night in a vehicle is prohibited.

The regulations replaced an old law that prohibited people from using vehicles as dwellings in all parts of the city. In 2014, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down that law as “unconstitutionally vague.”

When the city’s new rules were approved by the council in 2016, homeless advocates argued that citing residents for sleeping in vehicles amounted to criminalizing poverty and could make it more difficult for these people to find stable housing.