Wheel’s fall off car camping ban in Palo Alto

Palo Alto’s car camping ban was struck down after some City Council members agreed it could provoke lawsuits after a similar ban in Los Angeles was deemed unconstitutional.

The 7-1 vote to get rid of the ban, with Councilwoman Karen Holman absent and Councilman Larry Klein voting no, came Monday night after city Attorney Molly stump warned the council that current law could expose the city to lawsuits.

Pro and con

A handful of car camping ban opponents showed up to speak, although Councilwoman Liz Kniss said she got 50 emails from people who wanted to keep the ban. “Many of you who see this the same way have come forward but many others have stayed home tonight, “she said.

The City Council passed the ban in 2013, but the city decided to put the ban on hold in December when it learned of a case that was brought challenging the ban in Los Angeles.

Court case

In June, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Los Angeles ban, which prohibited the use of cars “as living quarters,” was unconstitutional because it was too difficult for people to know when they were breaking the law.

“The legal landscapes have changed dramatically, “Councilman Marc Berman said. “This is the right thing to do and the compassionate thing to do.”

Councilman Klein had different views. “I think this is a mistake for a variety of reasons, “he said. “There is no final determination as to whether this is unconstitutional,” he said.

He added that ditching the ban will make Palo Alto a magnet for car campers, since virtually all neighboring cities have some kind of law that bans car camping.

Cubberley ban

Another ban on car camping remains in effect in Palo Alto – a law prohibiting people from sleeping in their cars while parked overnight Cubberley Community Center 4000 Middlefield Road.

The ban was passed because of the concern that Cubberley had become a “de facto homeless shelter,” in the words of City Manager Jim Keene. The city also shut down the public showers the homeless had been using at Cubberley

Cheyenne Desertrain vs. City of Los Angeles

Opinion United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

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