A city ordinance barring people from sleeping in vehicles parked on residential Los Angeles streets quietly expired at the end of June, and LAPD officers have been instructed to no longer issue citations for the offense.
In a memo sent to officers last week, Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore said the vehicle-dwelling law that was extended by six months in December expired at the end of June.
"A proposed ordinance which would reinstate (the ordinance) and provide a new sunset date of Jan. 1, 2020, is currently pending in city council. However, this proposed ordinance has not been approved yet," Moore wrote.
The City Council, which is in the midst of its annual summer recess, is not expected to meet again until the end of July, providing at least a temporary window of relief from citations for people sleeping in cars on residential streets.
It was illegal for decades to live in a vehicle in the city until a 2014 federal court ruling struck down the ban. The council responded by drafting the law that made it illegal to live in a vehicle in residential neighborhoods or near sensitive locations such as parks and schools. The council extended the law by six months in June 2018, then voted again in December 2018 to extend it for another six months.
Mark Ryavec, president of the Venice Stakeholders Association, said the expiration of the law could create dangerous situations for residents.
"This is very dangerous because the objective of this is to keep all kinds of vehicles off and away from schools and parks, where kids play, and off residents' front curbs,'' said Ryavec, who is also a community officer with the Venice Neighborhood Council. "That evaporated on July 1, and the police have no authority to cite or move anybody even though they may have status as a sex offender ... or a felony conviction."
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Ryavec also said parking spots are limited in many neighborhoods, and allowing people to sleep in them creates an unfair situation for residents.
Homeless advocates have long criticized the law, saying it criminalizes homelessness.
City Councilman Mike Bonin, who represents the Venice area where many homeless people congregate, has been critical of law in the past, saying in December it can be difficult for police to prove a person is living in a vehicle. He also said living in a vehicle should be preferable to sleeping on a sidewalk.
Representatives for City Councilman Mitch O'Farrell, who chairs the city council's Homeless and Poverty Committee, could not be immediately released for comment.