CPRA Request Regarding Palo Alto’s Proposed Vehicle Habitation Ordinance

Molly Stump, Palo Alto City Attorney:

Public Records Request-Government Code 6250-6270-Vehicle Habitation Ordinance:

Given the lack of transparency and cooperation by City Staff in regards to the Vehicle Habitation Working Group I fear that City Staff will recommend that the Vehicle Habitation Ordinance be submitted to City Council for a vote this coming September 2012 in opposition to the will of the people asserted over the last year.

As read, the Human Habitation of Vehicles Ordinance proposed last July 2011 is not very clear in definition nor is it well defined in its scope.  The ordinance leaves much to the imagination and subjective interpretation due to its vagueness.  As such it would be greatly appreciated if you would clarify the proposed ordinance and the legal rights that homeless people will retain or lose if the City of Palo Alto enacts the proposed ordinance or one similar to it.

The purpose of this Public Records Request is to clarify exactly how the proposed ordinance will be enforced, therefore please answer the questions individually just as they are itemized below as that will be the best procedure for clarifying the issue, thank you.

1)    Is it legal to be homeless in Palo Alto, Yes or No?

2)    Is it illegal to be homeless in Palo Alto, Yes or No?

3)    Is it illegal for any person to sleep in Palo Alto on public property, Yes or No?

4)    Is it illegal for homeless persons to sleep in Palo Alto on public property, Yes or No?

5)    Please identify with specificity every public location inPalo Altoin which a homeless person may sleep without violating a current ordinance and or zoning policy.

6)    If there are zero legal locations in Palo Alto in which homeless persons can sleep, can you explain how they are supposed to exist and function without sleeping?

7)    Should Palo Alto enact the ordinance, will it be illegal for Homeless people to own a vehicles in Palo Alto, Yes or No?

8)    Should Palo Alto enact the ordinance, will it be illegal for Homeless people to park their vehicles on public streets in Palo Alto, Yes or No?

9)    Should Palo Alto enact the ordinance, will it continue to be legal for people who have residents to place food, fast food, groceries etc.. in their vehicles while parked on a public street in Palo Alto, Yes or No?

10)  Should Palo Alto enact the ordinance, will it continue to be legal for homeless people to place food, fast food, groceries etc.. in their vehicles while parked on a public street in Palo Alto, Yes or No?

11)   Will the ordinance allow residents to store a sleeping bag, camping gear and clothes in their vehicles, Yes or No?

12)   Will the ordinance allow homeless people to store a sleeping bag, camping gear and clothes, Yes or No?

13)    Will the ordinance prohibit residents from storing a sleeping bag, camping gear and clothes in their vehicles even though they are not sleeping in their vehicles, Yes or No?

14)    Will the ordinance prohibit homeless persons from storing a sleeping bag, camping gear and clothes in their vehicles even though they are not sleeping in their vehicles, Yes or No?

15)    Will the ordinance allow residents to sit in their cars on a public street at 1:00 am in the morning, Yes or No?

16)    Will the ordinance allow residents to sit in their cars on a public street at 3:00 am in the morning, Yes or No?

17)    Will the ordinance allow residents to sit in their cars on a public street at 5:00 am in the morning, Yes or No?

18)    Will the ordinance allow homeless people to sit in their cars on a public street at 1:00 am in the morning, Yes or No?

19)    Will the ordinance allow homeless people to sit in their cars on a public street at 3:00 am in the morning, Yes or No?

20)    Will the ordinance allow homeless people to sit in their cars on a public street at 5:00 am in the morning, Yes or No?

21)    If a person owns a home but is allergic to the building materials in his/her home preventing the homeowner from sleeping in their home, will the homeowner be allowed to sleep in his/her car on the street in front of his/her house, Yes or No?

22)    Will the ordinance allow residents to sleep in their vehicles on the street between 2:00pm and 4:00pm every day, Yes or No?

23)    Will the ordinance allow residents to sleep in their vehicles on the street between 2:00 AM and 4:00 AM every day, Yes or No?

24)    Will the ordinance allow homeless people to sleep in their vehicles on the street between 2:00pm and 4:00pm every day, Yes or No?

25)    Will the ordinance allow homeless people to sleep in their vehicles on the street between 2:00 AM and 4:00 AM every day, Yes or No?

26)    Should the City enact the ordinance, will residents be allowed to eat food, such as “Jack-in-the-box,” or “McDonalds,” or “Taco Bell” in their vehicles while parked on the street, Yes or No?

27)    Should the City enact the ordinance, will homeless people be allowed to eat food, such as “Jack-in-the-box,” or “McDonalds,” or “Taco Bell” in their vehicles while parked on the street, Yes or No?

28)    If the ordinance permits homeless people to owning vehicles and parking vehicles on the public street like all other residents, will homeless people be able to use their vehicles 24 hours a day 7 days a week like all other residents, Yes or No?

29)   How will officers determine if a person is using his/her vehicle as a dwelling place?

30)  Will officers only cite persons if they are caught sleeping or will other factors be involved?

31)   Will officers be able to cite/arrest homeless persons for occupying a vehicle even though there is no other evidence that the homeless person is living out of the vehicle?

32)  What level of evidence will be required to determine if a homeless person is habitating a vehicle in violation of the ordinance,  (a sleeping bag?);  (a duffle bag of gym clothes and shoes?);  (fast food or groceries?); (sleeping?)?

33) Will officers be able to cite/arrest homeless persons for violating the ordinance for simply owning a vehicle, Yes or No?

34)  How will officers determine if a person is using his/her vehicle as a dwelling place?

35)  If it hasn’t already been covered above, please explain in detail everything that residents will be able to do with their vehicles in Palo Alto should the City enact the ordinance.

36)  If it hasn’t already been covered above, please explain in detail everything that residents will be prohibited from doing with their vehicles in Palo Alto should the City enact the ordinance.

37)  If it hasn’t already been covered above, please explain in detail everything that homeless people will be able to do with their vehicles in Palo Alto should the City enact the ordinance.

38)  If it hasn’t already been covered above, please explain in detail everything that homeless people will be able to do with their vehicles in Palo Alto should the City enact the ordinance.

39)  What is the Nature and Origin of the Complaints that resulted in the Human Habitation of Vehicles Ordinance being angendized for a City Council vote last July 2011?

40)  Who from the City of Palo Alto made the decision to propose the Human Habitation of Vehicles Ordinance and the reason why?

41)  Who drafted the Human Habitation of Vehicles Ordinance?

42)  Who decided that the penalty should be a misdemeanor instead of an infraction and what was/is the reasoning behind this penalty?

July 2011  City of Palo Alto Proposed/Pending Human Habitation of Vehicles City Ordnance:

(a) It is unlawful for any person to use, occupy or permit the use or occupancy of any vehicle for human habitation on or in any street, park, alley, public parking lot or other public way.

For purposes of this section, “human habitation” means the use of a vehicle for a dwelling place and does not include temporary use of a vehicle for alleviation of sickness or physical inability to operate the vehicle.

(b) The following uses are exempt from the provisions of this section:

(1) Any mobile living unit used for human habitation allowed by another provision of this code or required procedure of the city;

(2) Guests of city residents for up to forty-eight consecutive hours when parked adjacent to the resident’s dwelling.

4 Replies to “CPRA Request Regarding Palo Alto’s Proposed Vehicle Habitation Ordinance”

  1. Molly Stump

    Palo Alto City Attorney,

    Dear Ms. Stump,

    Please be advised of the three minor corrections to the Public Records Request submitted to you on July 23, 2012:

    Public Records Request-Government Code 6250-6270-Vehicle Habitation Ordinance:

    Question number Three reads:

    3) Is it illegal for any person to sleep in Palo Alto on public property, Yes or No?

    It should read as follows:

    3) Is it legal for any person to sleep in Palo Alto on public property, Yes or No?

    Question number Seven reads:

    7) Should Palo Alto enact the ordinance, will it be illegal for Homeless people to own a vehicles in Palo Alto, Yes or No?

    It should read as follows:

    7) Should Palo Alto enact the ordinance, will it be legal for Homeless people to own vehicles in Palo Alto, Yes or No?

    Question number Thirty-Eight reads:

    38) If it hasn’t already been covered above, please explain in detail everything that homeless people will be able to do with their vehicles in Palo Alto should the City enact the ordinance.

    It should read as follows:

    38) If it hasn’t already been covered above, please explain in detail everything that homeless people will be prohibited from doing with their vehicles in Palo Alto should the City enact the ordinance.

    Thank you for your time and effort in responding to this public records request by Friday, August 3, 2012.

  2. Dear Mr. Ciampi,
     
    This responds to your emails dated July 23 and 28, 2012. 
     
    Thank you for your interest in this matter.  It is clear that you have taken a lot of time to think carefully and in detail about these issues.  I encourage you to participate in the continuing discussions at community meetings and before the City Council.
     
    The 42 questions in your emails are not a request for public records.  The Public Records Act gives members of the public the opportunity to review and obtain copies of “records.”  

    “Records” are written materials containing information relating to the conduct of the public’s business that are prepared, owned, used or retained by the local agency.  I believe you have previously requested and received records related to this topic. 

    If you believe there are additional categories of written materials in the City’ possession that would be helpful to you, I would be happy to help by directing your request to the officials who will be able to provide them. 
     
    Sincerely,
     
    Molly S. Stump
     
    Molly S. Stump | City Attorney
    250 Hamilton Avenue  Palo Alto, CA 94301
    D: 650.329.2171   E: molly.stump@cityofpaloalto.org

    1. Palo Alto City Attorney Molly Stump please clarify the law you intend to enact upon U.S. citizens.

      Molly Stump
      Palo Alto City Attorney:
       
      Dear Ms. Stump,
       
      First and foremost I have not received any documentation from any City personnel regarding the information that I am requesting.  In fact, former Asst. Police Chief Mark Venable, Asst. City Don Larkin and Planning …. Director Curtis Williams actually refused to address a similar line of questions throughout the Vehicle Habitation Working Group meetings. 

      As such I don’t expect any City Staff person or the City Council providing the information that I have requested at any future meetings. 

      In fact, the City Council is not even the body to seek the information from, they City Council should be requesting the exact same information from you, Mr. Larkin and Mr. Williams to provide the information to them and to the public so that the City Council and the public can make an accurately informed, logical, Constitutional and beneficial decision on the matter, however the City Council has not requested this information, for if they had, then I would have it my self.
       
      As you stated, “The Public Records Act gives members of the public the opportunity to review and obtain copies of “records.”  “Records” are written materials containing information relating to the conduct of the public’s business that are prepared, owned, used or retained by the local agency.”
       
      Everything I have asked for is related to the public’s business of enacting the Vehicle Habitation Ordinance and the legality of homeless people existing in the City and owning property, (vehicles), thus I do not understand how you have concluded that the information I have requested is not related to the public’s business.
       
      Since you seem to be refusing to provide the information I have requested, can you explain to the public and the media why you do not want to clarify the Vehicle Habitation Ordinance as put forth to you in my request?
       
      Most ethically and logically minded citizens would assume that it is your job as the Attorney of a City of 60,000 residents to clarify the laws that you enact upon its citizens for its citizens, yet for some reason you don’t want to.
       
      I as a citizen want to know, I need to know in order to obey the law that you intend to enact, if I will still be allowed to own a vehicle in Palo Alto should the City enact the Vehicle Habitation Ordinance as framed and submitted to the City Council last July.  How do you expect me or anyone for that matter to obey the law you intend to enact if you refuse to clarify what the law actually means?

      Currently the way I read your law, homeless people will be denied the right to own a vehicle in Palo Alto and that due to the law’s vagueness the law can been selectively enforced upon homeless people, citing the homeless for doing the exact same things that residents do yet residents will not be cited for doing the exact same things that homeless people do.  

      However I don’t know if my understanding of the law is correct or not, because the law is so vague, which is why I have requested that you clarify the law, the public’s business, in such a manner that there will be no confusion.

      It is self-evident that my request pertains to the public’s business, and therefore you cannot claim that it does not.  Therefore, I respectfully request that you reconsider your response and that you provide the information that I have requested in my Public Records Request by Friday August 3, 2012.
       
      Thank you,
       
      Tony Ciampi
      P.O. Box 1681
      Palo Alto, Ca 94302
      650-248-1634

Comments are closed.