From all outward appearances, seemingly benign laws such as, loitering, sleeping on the streets or in your vehicles, sit and lie ordinances are designed in reality, to force homeless individuals to go elsewhere.
Many experts in the field refer to such actions as “Selective Enforcement” a human shell game of legal maneuvering with the intent of clearing out the homeless population specifically those living in their vehicles as with the ordinance facing vehicle dwellers in Palo Alto.
Although city leadership would have us all think otherwise, there is no denying the fact that in Palo Alto city leaders are set to ban vehicles dwellers off the streets.
So what are they waiting for? Their waiting for the California 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to render its decision on the constitutionality in a similar case as outlined in a memo by city manager James Keene to Palo Alto city council members.
The vast majority of past legal cases centers on vagueness of laws enacted and or the “lack of notice of proscribed conduct.” see: City of Chicago v. Morales, 527 U.S. 41 (1999).
We believe this is not just an ordinary 9th Circuit Court of Appeals waiting shell game, but valuable time being given the city of Palo Alto and its immense legal staff the opportunity of fine tuning or making sure that all vagueness is removed from the ordinance before enforcement begins.
Update: The human legal vehicle dweller shell game maybe over.
The city of Palo Alto has been anxiously awaiting the decision coming down from the 9th circuit court of appeals in rendering or putting its final touches on banning vehicle dwellers off its streets.
The delays stem from an earlier challenge in the case of Cheyenne Desertrain vs. City of Los Angeles which questioned the constitutionality on a similar ban on vehicle serving as mobile shelters for the unconventionally housed.
This along awaited prolonged court battle for the time being is over. In its decision, the court stated and clearly pointed to the “Vagueness Doctrine”.
The vagueness doctrine is designed specifically to prevent this type of selective enforcement, in which a “‘net [can] be cast at large, to enable men to be caught who are vaguely undesirable in the eyes of the police and prosecution, although not chargeable in any particular offense.’” …
It’s unclear how the impact of this decision will effect the city of Palo Alto in rethinking or pursuing further its ban on vehicle dwellers. But, for the moment, the human legal vehicle dweller shell game maybe over….