U.S. Appeals Court Rules Palo Alto’s Vehicle Habitation Ban Unconstitutional

A federal appeals court declared Palo Alto’s voter-approved ban on Homeless People using vehicles and the public streets unconstitutional Tuesday in a ruling that was both historic and, perhaps more importantly, narrowly drafted.

“Section 9.06.010 (Human Habitation of Vehicles) serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of homeless people in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of Housed people,” said Judge R in the majority opinion.

In citing two other cases from 1973 and 1996 the high court said the government violates equal protection when it withdraws rights in order to harm a politically unpopular group or express disapproval of a vulnerable minority.

Like the Colorado initiative, Section 9.06.010 stripped rights from a minority group – rights the group held under the earlier California court ruling – for no apparent reason other than moral disapproval.

Judge R also said evidence at the trial showed that the Section 9.06.010 campaign appealed to voters’ irrational fears of the homeless.

With no demonstrated “legitimate purpose,” Judge R said, the court must conclude that the Municipal Code was rooted in “disapproval of Homeless people as a class.”

One Reply to “U.S. Appeals Court Rules Palo Alto’s Vehicle Habitation Ban Unconstitutional”

  1. I live in San Francisco and am currently researching the Palo Alto ban on human habitation in vehicles and the recent CA Court of Appeals case which deemed it unconstitutional.

    I found this but the author did not include a citation to the case, and I can’t seem to find it online. Does anyone have a citation for this case?

    You can email me directly at LASTWORLDHOPE(AT)YAHOO.COM

    Many thanks.


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