HUFF opposes passage of Palo Alto’s Living in Vehicles ordinance

FROM: Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom

309 Cedar St. PMB 14B

Santa Cruz, Ca. 95060

TO: Palo Alto City Council
250 Hamilton Avenue
Palo Alto, CA

re: Item # 17 on Action Agenda for Aug 5 2013 meeting

MC 9.06.010 “Living in Vehicles” ordinance proposal

August 2, 2013

Dear Mayor Gregory Scharff and members of the Palo Alto City Council,

Our organization, Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom has met & discussed

the proposed MC 9.06.010 “Living in Vehicles” ordinance which will be on your Monday, August 5th

agenda. Under this ordinance, what constitutes illegal behavior is defined as follows:

For purposes of this section, “human habitation” means the use of a

vehicle for a

 

dwelling place, including but not limited to, sleeping, eating or resting, either single

or in groups…
HUFF finds this to be an overly-broad definition of illegal behavior which could be
practiced by nearly every citizen of Palo Alto at some point or other, but is likely to be selectively
enforced against poor, houseless, disabled, or people of color.
The only remedy is punishment by fine or jail. In the former, this will only drive an already
impoverished individual into deeper poverty and in the latter will overburden our already
overburdened justice system adding to the already record levels of those incarcerated
at huge public expense for little value in return. Can you really use your government power
of citation, arrest, fines or jail to dissuade people from sleeping, eating, or resting?
Why would you want to?

Finally, since a housed person who eats, sleeps, or rests in his/her vehicle is not “dwelling”
in their vehicle, these activities by definition are intended to be enforced differently against
homeless people than against housed people who engage in the exact same behavior.
This makes your ordinance unconstitutional on its face.

For these and other reasons HUFF passed the following resolution:

HUFF opposes passage of the Living in Vehicles ordinance as overly broad, not providing alternatives,

adding to the criminalization of the homeless by trying to solve complex economic problems with the stroke of the pen.

Passed unanimously on July 31, 2013 by the HUFF membership

Sincerely,

        Becky Johnson of HUFF

Please reply by e-mail to: becky_johnson222@hotmail.com

or by telephone at (831) 423 – 4833

(Also posted on Huff Resolutions Page)

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